Poetry: Sparklers

July 4, 2002 at 12:00 AM EDT
Former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky reads poetry about the Fourth of July.

RAY SUAREZ: Finally tonight, some Fourth of July poetry read by former American Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky.

ROBERT PINSKY: Here in Boston, the big Fourth of July fireworks take place reflected in the basin of the Charles River behind me.

John Hollander’s poem “Sparklers” celebrates fireworks on a grand scale, on a national scale, and also by the end of the poem on an intimate scale.

say can you see
how our old
ten and two and
Our thirteen starters twinkling, an original star
Flared up, a July fourth supernova, (memory
Watching starry rockets now in grandstands, or along
Chilly beaches) Can you see how then it exploded
Westward, southward, urging the hegemony of light
On hills of high, darkened cloud, unwilling plains, milky
Rivers and one-candled mountain-cabins of the night?
Democracy which closes the past against us (said
Tocqueville) opens the future up: but as you sit here
With me on the high rocks at Cape Eleutheria,
Truthful in your shawl, all the light that ever was shines
In your eyes, later to burn off tomorrow’s blankness.