Elizabeth Alexander and Stephen Colbert

Friday, January 23, 2009 - 12:55 pm

Elizabeth Alexander and Stephen Colbert

I loved the inaugural poem Elizabeth Alexander read earlier this week — with its quiet, understated beginning, and how it wound up to this:

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
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 pre-empt grievance.
In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Still, I was a tad surprised to find her on The Colbert Report last night, where she showed she can hold her own with the master satirist, who’s inquiry into the nature of metaphor, by the way, becomes just slightly infected by double entendre that might offend some sensibilities.
The inaugural poem itself is going to be issued as a chapbook by her publisher Graywolf Press — a marvelous literary publisher located in, of all places, St. Paul, Minnesota where we work.

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