Poets have infused presidential inaugurations with both the urgency of their visions and a sense of the ages. Bill Clinton, from Hope, Arkansas, brought Miller Williams to his second inauguration, in 1997, to read "Of History and Hope."
We have memorized America, Williams recited, how it was born and who we have been and where.
It was Maya Angelou who graced Clinton's first swearing-in, in 1993. From "On the Pulse of Morning,'' she read:
Today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully, Come, you may stand upon my back and face your distant destiny.
Angelou died today at 86. Bloomberg's Anne Ferrer writes here about the poet and professor "whose bestselling memoirs of growing up black and female made her a beloved American storyteller, with a melodious voice and seemingly boundless optimism in the face of hardship."