Blanco’s poem: a whiff of Whitman at the inauguration

I detected a little of Walt Whitman in Richard Blanco’s poem this afternoon.   He hears America singing: 

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me — in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.

Read it all.   It’s full of rich images and sensations—a whiff of Whitman with a dollop of Woody Guthrie and a brush stroke or two of Thomas Hart Benton for good measure.  It’s a big-hearted paean to a big country.

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  1. [...] not knotty, not abstruse, conventional; a little bit Whitmanesque. See comments here, here, here, and [...]


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