Inauguration Poems

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If Trump Won’t Give Us Inauguration Poetry, Let Us Read Whitman – Leslie Lawrence – 1/19/17 – Wbur’s “Cognoscenti”

Unlike President-elect Donald Trump’s self-aggrandizing tweets and rants, Whitman’s opus [“Song of Myself”] celebrates multitudes:

I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise…
Maternal as well as paternal…
A southerner soon as a Northerner…
a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion…
I resist any thing better than my own diversity…

“Song of Myself” presages every progressive movement now threatened, giving language to “many long dumb voices:”

Voices of the interminable generations of prisoners and slaves,
…of prostitutes and of deform’d persons,
…of the diseas’d and despairing and of thieves and dwarfs…

“Whoever degrades others degrades me,” he writes.


Illustration from William Crawford’s Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself

(p.d. 154)

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