Tuesday 20 January 2009

Random Thoughts on the Great Day

There is no escaping the Great Inauguration, still less the blizzard of verbiage enveloping it. All seem agreed that it is, in many and various ways, a Good and a Great Thing - and who would disagreee? Apart, that is, from the supreme ruler of Iran, the Ayatollah Khameini, who snappily describes Obama as 'the hand of Satan in a new sleeve'. Never afraid of breaking with the consensus, those ayatollahs. Meanwhile, the rest of the world inclines towards the messianic in its assessment of the incoming Pres. The weight of expectation on his shoulders is obviously far too much for any mortal politician, but I hope there's a nugget of something in that optimistic view, and that at least Obama won't go from hero to zero as comprehensively and catastrophically as Blair did in the years following the rapture of May 97.
At another supposedly epoch-making inauguration - that of JFK - the aged poet Robert Frost, long declined into windbaggery, was wheeled out to declaim a new composition. It didn't go very well. Poets have no place on these occasions anyway (Clinton had Maya Angelou - has Obama got anyone lined up? I hope not. If he's on form, his prose will be enough, and more.) To see how an inauguration was done in the early days, catch next Saturday's episode of John Adams. In fact, catch it anyway - this HBO production is the best hitorical drama in years, and makes our homegrown efforts look infantile. Channel 4 is throwing it away in an afternoon slot - typical.
Meanwhile, let's enjoy today as best we can...


  1. Elizabeth Alexander is speaking at the inauguration. After the naffness of BONO and chum's concert the other day, (provoking nasty flashbacks of nu-labour 1997) it would be a little odd to pass on this non-tradition.

  2. I've written my own inaugural composition. What do you think? I call it "Barack Obama":

    O Barack Obama
    Wiser than the Dalai
    Your battle with Hilary
    Clinton made for good
    Though it went on a bit
    Like a story on
    A dull episode of Panorama,
    Perhaps about the state of
    Ecomonics. However, your victory
    Pleased Simon Schama
    Who is a British
    (possibly left-leaning)
    O Barack Obama.

  3. Fine work Brit, tho I'm not sure you've taken the commission entirely seriously...

  4. How can you say that? It has a deeply complex A-A B-A B-A B-A A-A C-A rhyming pattern and a wholly original 'semi-sprung' rhythm.

    This, I felt, was the only truly honest way to render the man poetically.

  5. Looks like it's an acrostic too, definitely containing the words Owl and Lapse - I take it all back Brit. Who needs Elizabeth Alexander?

  6. Well, I have composed a haiku to celebrate this auspicious moment:

    Barack Obama.
    Cooler than the winter winds
    of old Chicaga.

  7. Damn fine haiku, Mark. Any more poets out there? Uhoh - here's the man....

  8. As speeches go it went and went and went and went. In the Pres was not a dent. In years to come with shrunken tum lets all remember that.

    I think the BBC reporter was in Washington Tyne & Wear