Ken Tucker
January 20, 2009 AT 10:56 PM EST

Today’s challenge to the poet Elizabeth Alexander was even greater than previous poets who’d been asked to write verse for an inaugural day. After all, Barack Obama has written some pretty good poems himself, one of which can be read here.

Alexander’s poem proved to be a sturdy one, a steady march of free verse iambic pentameter that spoke of national resolve through the metaphor of “repairing the things in need of repair” and, in a nice image, confronting our current problems as “the figuring it out at kitchen tables.” Her one dip into sentimentality — “What if the mightiest word is love?” — was balanced by many other attractive turns of phrase, such as rendering this sunny, snowy Washington D.C., afternoon as “today’s sharp sparkle.”

What did you think of the inaugural poem, and President Obama’s speech itself?

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