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14 Great Poems To Read On Inauguration Day

There's no official inaugural poem this year, so here are 14 that describe America as it is and as it could be.

Posted on January 19, 2017, at 3:09 p.m. ET

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"A New National Anthem" by Ada Limón

Jude Domski

“Perhaps, / the truth is, every song of this country / has an unsung third stanza,"

"I, Too" by Langston Hughes

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"They’ll see how beautiful I am / And be ashamed— / I, too, am America."

"An American Poem" by Eileen Myles


"I am a Kennedy. / Shouldn’t we all be Kennedys?"

"America" by Walt Whitman

“Centre of equal daughters, equal sons, / All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,”

"Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou

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"You may write me down in history / With your bitter, twisted lies, / You may trod me in the very dirt / But still, like dust, I’ll rise."

"You’re Dead, America" by Danez Smith

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“i put a spell on you / it called for 3/5s of my blood / apple pie, red / bones & a full moon”

"America" by Claude McKay

"I will confess / I love this cultured hell that tests my youth."

"Ghazal For Becoming Your Own Country" by Angel Nafis


"Goodest grief is an orchard you know. But you have not been killed / Once. Angel, put that on everything. Self. Country. Stone. Bride."

"The Beautifully Worthless" by Ali Liebegott

“A thousand ways to be lost in this country -- / good lost, bad lost -- people pushed by broom edges, /flicked by bristle tips into corners....”

"Skinhead" by Patricia Smith

Peter Dressel

"I’m your baby, America, your boy, / drunk on my own spit, I am goddamned fuckin’ beautiful. / And I was born / and raised / right here."

"Ghazal: America The Beautiful" by Alicia Ostriker

"I said One Nation Invisible until corrected / maybe I was right about America."

"Unpeopled Eden" by Rigoberto Gonzalez

"Rows of ghosts come forth to sing."

"America" by Allen Ginsberg

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“America when will you be angelic?”