I must unburden myself.
Many people, especially in the media, have bought into the claim that President Obama is a great speaker, an elemental force of public speaking. I beg to differ. He reads a well-crafted speech with polish and seeming conviction. His extemporaneous performances are rough. No doubt he will improve in time, but he is not a good speaker without a text.
It is that American’s are so starved for good public oratory that this seems to soar? Have our standards of education, of formation in the substance and literature of Western Civilization is so enervated that this seems elevated?
During the inauguration ceremony four soul annihilating minutes were inflicted by the poem, composed and declaimed Elizabeth Alexander. She is a professor at Yale and a personal friend of the Obama family.
As you read it or listen here, remember that the first poet to read at an inauguration was Robert Frost.