What Kanfer says is mild compared to Patrick Kurp's thoughts:`No Social Function'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
“Praise Song for the Day,” in fact, is not poetry but an inferior species of prose. It is what one expects from an earnest junior-high-school student with little gift for language, or from a professor at Yale.Ouch!
I didn't watch the inauguration (the only one I can remember seeing is Kennedy's!), and I haven't read the poem, but the lines quoted in Kanfer's article are dreadful. Had I been asked, I would have suggested to Alexander that she read the Gettysburg Address and pay close attention to its simplicity and brevity. Something contrasting in style and tone to the the pomp and circumstance of the event, while remaining apposite to true patriotic sentiment, might just have done the trick. That would have required, however, what the Augustans - masters of public poetry - called decorum, which is hard to come by these days.