A Tribute to Poetry
School's out... and young people across the country are hearing words of wisdom at high school and college graduations. Do you remember the commencement speaker at your graduations? How about the inspiring verses or poems read out at your wedding? Maybe you are attending a gymnasium graduation or a classic June wedding this month!
These landmark gatherings feature speakers and ministers who acknowledge the past, inspire the future. Like a commencement address or a matrimonial service, moving poetry can make time stand still.
One such memorable poem has personal resonance for several of us at A & I Financial Services, and we wanted to share it with you. This poem is part of our national memory, as well, having been written for and delivered at a presidential inauguration. Cast your mind back to 1993...
I watched the inauguration - on a small TV, set on a tall wooden cabinet - from an 11th-floor office building in Bangkok, Thailand. There, I worked for an international investment bank. My Thai colleagues were fascinated to see Presidential power transfer from George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton with a handshake. Though it is a constitutional monarchy, Thailand has seen frequent military coups. In 1993, Thailand happened to have an elected government; a coup had transpired in 1991, though, in a pattern repeated as recently as this year, 2014. So my local colleagues saw that handshake as tremendously significant; it remains a model of sound governance, whatever your politics.
In contrast to my Thai peers in the research office, I found the emotive words of the inaugural poem most notable that day. At age 23, I hadn't watched many inaugurations, fewer weddings, and had sat through just two long, hot graduation ceremonies. But my naiveté wasn't the only reason these words resonated; the language and rhythms weave a powerful spell over many, even today.
You can listen to U.S. Poet Laureate Maya Angelou's sweeping delivery of "On The Pulse of the Morning" here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59xGmHzxtZ4
Or read the poem -- in your most momentous inner voice -- here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178949
Last week, Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86. In 2000, she received the National Medal of Arts, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2010. She had served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University since 1982. Angelou's audio recording of the poem won the 1994 in the "Best Spoken Word" category, resulting in more fame and recognition for her previous works, and broadening her appeal. (wikipedia)
For more poetry subscribe for free to Poem-A-Day, from the Academy of American Poets, here:http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem-day
You can have magical, moving words delivered to your in-box daily, for a little escape and a lot of reflection.