Tuesday, June 21, 2005

My New Editing Technique is Unstoppable

I'm encouraged by the coverage of the recent developments here at the Pangrammaticon offered by Laura and enowning. I'm beginning to feel a bit like this.

On this wave of hubris, I want to try presenting two edits of a strophe in Bill Clinton's first inaugural address. Inaugural addresses make for interesting reading because their prose seems, in hindsight, needlessly poor. At the time, I'm sure a great deal of thought went into finding just the right balance of rhetorical tensions. In the example below I was struck by just how clumsy the sentences are, forever retracting a sentiment before it has been fully articulated. They seem bent on thwarting our attempts to engage with the language used. That's what I've tried to fix in my edits.

The first version is an attempt to approach something Lincoln might do with the idea. (Like I say, I'm overwhelmed by hubris.) The second is an attempt to write a poem without completely disposing of the materials provided. Comments are always welcome.


Original

Today, a generation raised in the shadows of the Cold War assumes new responsibilities in a world warmed by the sunshine of freedom but threatened still by ancient hatreds and new plagues. Raised in unrivalled prosperity, we inherit an economy that is still the world's strongest but is weakened by business failures, stagnant wages, increasing inequality, and deep divisions among our own people.


Version 1

A generation raised in the shadows of the Cold War today assumes new responsibilities. Ours is a world warmed by the sun of freedom and blessed with unrivaled prosperity. But it remains threatened by ancient hatreds and new plagues. There is increasing inequality and deep divisions among our people. But there is hope. Although weakened by business failures and stagnant wages, we inherit the world's strongest economy and are entrusted with it to do what we can.



Version 2

TODAY

Raised in prosperity,
raised in the shadows,

the Cold War generation
assumes new responsibilities.

The sun of freedom
warms the ancient hatreds,
the new plagues.

We inherit the world's economy,
strongest at its weakest:

business failures,
stagnant wages,
increasing inequality,
and deep divisions:
we are among our own people.

1 comment:

Laura Carter said...

I like the last line the best. But perhaps someone would say that the words "own" & "people" are incapable of expressing/embodying, etc. 'beauty,' & hence. But it makes sense to use those words in the context of your poem. Very Clintonesque. Nice cartoon, by the way.