Praise Day

Even the non-poetry blogs are talking about Elizabeth Alexander’s poem and its delivery at the inauguration.  I had wanted to make a comment about it, nearly identical to Jeannine’s regarding poems that fall flat and Evie’s note on Alexander’s reading style, but there is something to be said for not adding negativity to the universe.


I have come to praise Elizabeth Bartlett‘s poetry.  I have come to extol her cynicism, her music of the everyday, her flights of fantasy, the blood and the dirt beneath her nails which have gone into her poems. I have come too late.



by Elizabeth Bartlett (published in A Lifetime of Dying: Poems 1942-1979)


We are the ones with Faberge’s eggs

concealed about our persons, or walking

humpty-dumpty up the ante-natal clinic path.

No doubt you wish we were not here at all,

gazing out over the heads of sleeping children

at the boxes which are our homes, and gardens

full of prams and strung with washing line.


We are the ones who don’t appear too much,

the ones which modern English poetry

could do without.  We don’t hold degrees,

except perhaps of feeling, the mercury

shooting up and down like crazy.

Oh lord, the thermometers we break,

the sweaty sheets in which we lie awake.


We have no O levels, or A levels either.

We didn’t fight and we didn’t win,

we only ran to get the washing in.

Look out, you just missed us

as you crossed the crowded campus.

We were only there to clean the floors

and hand your morning coffee out.