Commentary on the language of Inauguration Day:
At The Atlantic, James Fallows identifies “the two most powerful allusions” in President Obama’s speech: “lash and sword” and “Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall.” I’d add that the lucky alliteration in the second allusion gives it additional force.
Ben Zimmer, of the Visual Thesaurus, looks at the repeated rhetorical flourish of “We, the People.” He also addresses the nitpickers who cried foul over Obama’s placement of “only” in one phrase and his use of singular “they” in another. (Both usages, by the way, are acceptable.)
For a snarky take on the speech, see the Whatever It Is, I’m Against It blog. The title of the post: “We Are Made for This Moment (Although If You Check the Label, It Says ‘Made in China’).”
UPDATE: Jay Heinrichs analyzes the rhetorical tropes of the speech: antithesis, metaphor, and anaphora (with a little syncrisis—“a kind of antithesis that piles on the contrasts in multiple clauses”—for good measure).
The inaugural poem, “One Today,” was written and delivered by Richard Blanco, who was born in Spain to a Cuban-exile family and grew up in Miami; he was only the fifth poet to read at a presidential inauguration, and the first immigrant, first Latino, first openly gay person, and youngest person (at 44) to hold that honor. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly provides the full text of the poem and an analysis (“a humble, modest poem, one presented to a national audience as a gift of comradeship”). Andrew Sullivan heard “strong echoes of Whitman, America's national poet.”
I had one tiny cavil: A professional writer, especially one whose first language is Spanish, ought to know that it’s Sierra—singular—and not Sierras.