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Poetry: Sparklers

On the July 4, 2002 NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, former poet laureate Robert Pinsky read aloud John Hollander’s poem "Sparklers" in front of Boston’s Charles River. Pinsky said the poem "celebrates fireworks on a grand scale, on a national scale, and also by the end of the poem on an intimate scale."

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  • 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.

  • Oh,say can you seehow our oldten and two andoneOur thirteen starters twinkling, an original starFlared up, a July fourth supernova, (memoryWatching starry rockets now in grandstands, or alongChilly beaches) Can you see how then it explodedWestward, southward, urging the hegemony of lightOn hills of high, darkened cloud, unwilling plains, milkyRivers and one-candled mountain-cabins of the night?Democracy which closes the past against us (saidTocqueville) opens the future up:

    but as you sit hereWith me on the high rocks at Cape Eleutheria,Truthful in your shawl, all the light that ever was shinesIn your eyes, later to burn off tomorrow’s blankness.

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