Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Poems: "The Second Inaugural" -- by Barbara Claire Freeman

Dear Necessity, the magnitude
            and difficulty of the trust to which the voice
                        of my country has called arises from the recent
tempest, adopted by the Spanish to name
            the storms they encountered in New Times
                        Roman. These reflections, bracketed
by floods, have forced themselves
            so strongly on my mind that I fear
                        Hurakan, who commands winds
from the east. In the night there is a coming
            and going of people, but where are the former
                        ties? Although the wounds of many
of you have begun to fester,
            there are none under the waters, there are
                        none. In this conflict all I dare aver
is that it has been my faithful study
            to collect a duty from a just appreciation
                        of every street lamp in Philadelphia. If I
have violated willingly or silently
            the injunction thereof, I may
                        (besides incurring constitutional punishment) be subject
            to the upbraiding of all who are now
                        witnesses of this present solemnity. I did
not say, “In this chapter begins your future, it cannot be put out by fire.”

*     *     *     *     *

Barbara Claire Freeman is a literary critic, literature professor and poet whose work includes The Feminine Sublime: Gender and Excess in Women’s Fiction (1998), among other works of literary theory and criticism, and the poetry collection Incivilities (2009). Her poems have won the Boston Review/Discovery Prize and the Language Exchange Prize. 

She teaches creative writing in the Rhetoric Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

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