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Ten presidents ago, on the occasion of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, the poet Robert Frost offered a recitation. Were he alive today, perhaps he would celebrate President Trump similarly. Or perhaps not. We cannot know — but we can try to bridge the gap, reviving a familiar old voice in our own time.
This is the third in a series of commentaries channeling past writers. The first two featured re-workings of Shakespeare: Hamlet’s soliloquy, and Sonnet 18. Now it’s time to branch out. I doubt I’m the only one who, in the Trump era, is hearing voices.
So, for this week, Robert Frost’s early 20th-century voice. Then maybe a voice older than Shakespeare’s as Easter approaches (stay tuned). And after that, who knows?
The point is to try to enable poets and writers from different centuries to comment on the unprecedented events of our own. So what if those writers are dead? Why shouldn’t they get to roll in their graves and speak? A modern voice alone just isn’t enough in our tortured era.
For best effect this time around you might recall your own Frost recitation from grade school.
by Jeff Balch
“Watching TV on a Snowy Evening” (with apologies to Mr. Frost)
Which room this is I think I know.
My home is Mar-a-Lago though;
No one will see me flopping here
To watch another TV show.
Melania may think it queer
That I no longer come too near
Whenever there’s a station break
These evenings of my second year.
I give the clicker quite a shake
When Fox & Friends make a mistake.
The only other sound’s the bleat
Of mainstream news — completely fake.
They covfefe cover bone spurs in my feet,
So what? I’ve Burger King to eat,
And hours to go before I tweet,
And hours to go before I tweet.