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State of the City Poem 2015: Praisesong for Boston

by Gina Perille

COBseal_walsh-001Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s State of the City speech on January 13 featured a poem crafted by City of Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges. The library is honored to share it here.

Praisesong for Boston 

Begin with the Massachusett, setting nets in the harbor
Of Boston, before it was Boston harbor—Quonehassit,
Place of clear water, and arrive at my door.  I, immigrant

Like so many settlers nestled in your arms, write this poem
To you Boston.  If I write Trimount it is for your hills,
Some still standing, others razed, the land changed, as lands are,

As time passes, and yet history is yours, Boston, the good and bad of it,
The inarticulated and the often-stated:  A Puritan’s beacon, Wheatley’s
Pen, Winthrop’s city upon a hill, Walker’s Appeal to the Coloured

Citizens of the world, the vision and grandeur that are Gardner’s,
The words lost to the grey and blue Atlantic.  If I place an emerald
Necklace at your feet, it is to match the medallions of your ever-turning

Wheels:  bicycles and school-buses, the railroads and helms of trade
And fate, of fire and grit, of determination’s grip, of cod and beans,
And the great house of science, and the great house of knowledge,

And the great house of art.  International since the day you were born,
If cities are born.  And if you are grown, then out of everything you
Have grown:  a revolution’s spark, the arc of a wide bridge,

Cable-stayed, lit electric, wharves and new waves,
And the complicated notions of freedom and forward,
And the ease of summer days and sturdy neighbors:

Chris, young terror of Sumner Street; Alana eating a pear,
Already in third grade; John, but call him Mac; Santiago
Who yells louder than God; and Wendy who yells louder;

And Wayne, uncle to all, from his big yellow house greeting
Each newcomer to the neighborhood.

Danielle Legros Georges

CityofBostonLaureate

(this poem is indebted to Robert J. Allison’s
A Short History of Boston)

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4 Responses to “State of the City Poem 2015: Praisesong for Boston”

  1. Donna Wolfe says:

    Brava! Exquisite and specific ..

  2. Beautiful poem Danielle. Thank you. Cheers, Victor

  3. Anne says:

    A moving poem spanning centuries of history and filled with optimism.
    Thank your for sharing your talent.