“What if the mightiest word is love?”: See Here Elizabeth Alexander’s Poem (Read at Barack Obama’s Inauguration)

In contrast with Rick Warren’s depressingly prosaic, tone deaf, sectarian and artless invocation, I thought Elizabeth Alexander’s poem was a genuinely spiritual moment during the inauguration—a “prayer,” if you will—and a moving affirmation of human work, longing, and the supremacy of love—and “walking in that light”:

Naturally, Rush Limbaugh delighted in hating Alexander’s poem, proud of his ignorance and anti-aestheticism, telling a caller who tried to explain the poem to him:

I’m really glad that you have the ability to interpret gobbledygook.  It’s something that I have never, ever been able to do.  I recognize BS when I hear it, and I know it’s BS, but the exact meaning sometimes eludes me.  Same thing with gobbledygook.

There was once a time when conservatism appreciated elite literary culture, and cared about figurative language, and understood its value (T.S. Eliot, for example, was a conservative).

Today’s know-nothing conservatism is a sign that the movement has entered a decadent phase. 

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to “What if the mightiest word is love?”: See Here Elizabeth Alexander’s Poem (Read at Barack Obama’s Inauguration)

  1. Daniel Klotz says:

    I’m sure that if I’d heard Rush Limbaugh bashing the poem, the first thing I would have done is decided that I loved it. I can’t stand him. That said, I was unimpressed with it, but for much different (and hopefully, more sensitive and nuanced) reasons that I spelled out in an entry yesterday. I’d love your thoughts on my comparison of her poem with Maya Angelou’s.

  2. santitafarella says:


    I commented at your blog.

    Let me know what you thought.


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