Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Praise song for the day

This is the transcript for the Elizabeth Alexander poem that she read yesterday at Barack Obama's inauguration. Praise song for the day, indeed!

Each day we go about our business, walking
past each other, catching each others' eyes or
not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is
noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn
and din, each one of our ancestors on our
tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing
the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky;
A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin.

"We encounter each other in words, words spiny
or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to
consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the
will of someone and then others who said, "I
need to see what's on the other side; I know
there's something better down the road."
We need to find a place where we are safe; We
walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us
here, who laid the train tracks, raised the
bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices they would
then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign;
The figuring it out at kitchen tables.
Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self.
"Others by first do no harm, or take no more than
you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond
marital, filial, national. Love that casts a
widening pool of light. Love with no need to
preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
anything can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise
song for walking forward in that light.

1 comment:

Angela2932 said...

"Say it plain, that many have died for this day." If that wasn't moving, I don't know what is!