What to Do When There’s No Inaugural Poem?

There will be no poem at today’s inauguration. The tradition began at Kennedy’s inauguration with a poem by Robert Frost. I know it’s not an unbroken tradition. Not every president since Kennedy has had an inaugural poet. But this one feels conspicuous. I’m not surprised that there isn’t an inaugural poet. Who would agree to … More What to Do When There’s No Inaugural Poem?

Christmas with Hopkins

With his emphasis on the embodiment of Christ in his poetry, the priest-poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins has quite a few seasonal poems to choose from. Last year, we looked at one of his darker Christmas poems, but I thought we would be a little more festive this year. The stanza above is from “Ad Matrem Virginem,” … More Christmas with Hopkins

I Still Do

I used to think the power of words was inexhaustible, That how we said the world was how it was, and how it would be. I used to imagine that word-sway and word-thunder Would silence the Silence and all that, That worlds were the Word, That language could lead us inexplicably to grace, As though … More I Still Do

What Can Poetry Do?

We may think of poetry as a frivolous nicety. Something for unemployed graduate students and English teachers. We may have repeated to ourselves the old mantra from Auden’s poem about Yeats that “poetry makes nothing happen.” It’s only an assortment of words, with tired rhymes or childish puns. What can it do besides give me a feeling? … More What Can Poetry Do?