Poetry and Politics; to Filibuster or Not to Bluster

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 2, 2005 | Go to article overview

Poetry and Politics; to Filibuster or Not to Bluster


Byline: Suzanne Fields, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Congress is spending a lot of hot air on the question: To filibuster or not to filibuster. The Bard, as always, said it best: "Whether 'tis nobler in the minds men to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/Or to take aims against a sea of troubles/ And by opposing end them?"

Whatever our worthies decide to do about the filibuster, we can count on a lot of bluster. Hamlet summed up pretty well what's rotten in the state of Congress. Would that the few senators who set their tongues to blocking judicial nominees were eloquent in understanding the issue. We no longer live in an age when poetry is handmaiden to political rhetoric. Our politicians, like most everybody else, are sparing in poetic utterance, which is too bad because at its best poetry clarifies thought. Fine poetic images crystallize ideas and encourage an appreciation of the structure of language informed with meaning. Both language and meaning are often missing in the windbaggery of Capitol Hill.

We've all had a lot of fun "misunderestimating" the president's syntax and his knowledge of the ancient "Grecians"; he probably couldn't recite much poetry, either. But he has done the country a capital service in bringing Dana Gioia, a poet, to Washington to chair the National Endowment for the Arts. Learning of my interest in poetry, the chairman called me the other day to talk about a pet project.

In a pilot program sponsored by the NEA and the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, schoolchildren are now offered participation in a poetry recitation contest. In Washington more than 4,000 students from 10 middle and high schools memorized two poems and competed first with classmates and then with students of other schools, as in a spelling bee. Ten finalists performed their poems the other day at the Folger Shakespeare Library. They would have done the Bard proud.

Stephanie Oparaugo of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, the winner of the regional finals, a young woman from Nigeria, chose two very different and difficult poems for recitation, "The Second Coming," by William Butler Yeats, and "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll, a poem that includes lots of whimsically nonsensical sounds. A famous line of the Yeats poem is "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold," which was especially significant to Stephanie because it was the title of a novel entitled "Things Fall Apart," describing colonization in her native country. "Because I'm Nigerian," she says, "I had to do it. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Poetry and Politics; to Filibuster or Not to Bluster
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.