Inaugural poem, invocation leave some underwhelmed
Yale University professor Elizabeth Alexander became only the fourth person to deliver a poem on Inauguration Day, but early reviews concluded that her contribution wont challenge the place in history of presidential poets Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
In fact, some observers say it may come down to this: It just wasnt very captivating.
After all, the Associated Press described it as a grounded, non-topical summation and joining of minute details and infinite themes.
Erica Wagner, in the Times of London, summed up Praise Song for the Day thusly: unmemorable.
How do I know that for sure? Wagner asked online. Why, because I cant remember it. Two minutes after it was spoken I couldnt remember it.
Thats not to say her poem lacked flourishes that captured the symbolism of Obamas rise: Say it plain: that many have died for this day, Alexander wrote.The Los Angeles Times wasnt too keen on it, either, saying it failed to capture the days import. Relying on prosaic language Each day we go about our business, the poem opens, a strange sentiment for an occasion that, on so many levels, was not about business as usual.
She had a tough act to follow, of course Obamas epoch-defining speech. Before that speech, the Rev. Rick Warren delivered the invocation. The California minister was a controversial choice because of views on homosexuality and abortion.
The author of The Purpose Driven Life struck strong inclusive tones. Dr. King and a great crowd of witnesses are shouting in heaven, Warren said.
His mere mention of King was enough to set some off.
First of all, how dare he even mention Martin Luther King. Second, those portions which were not direct quotes from scripture were a mess, said the liberal blogger D-Day. He got little more than polite applause and the complete mess he made of the invocation showed that what applause he got wasnt earned.