Anthem for a Burnished Land

[Anthem for a Burnished Land is the poem that poet Shaun Griffin wrote for Governor Sandoval's inauguration. He read the poem on January 3, 2011 and has kindly granted us permission to publish it on the ONE.]

The great Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, said the end of art is peace. If a poem can do anything, it can help us to reflect on why we need the ritual of ceremony in our lives and in so doing take some peace from this moment.

This poem is a testimony to the desire of all who have chosen the hardscrabble landscape of Nevada as home.

Anthem for a Burnished Land

If we cannot unravel the drift of days
to mark the aspen with what strength remains—

not an idea of this dry, dry place
but what we do for work, whether field

or factory, what we imagine
this labor in sand and rock to mean:

and although the precise demeanor of doubt
is never far in this incalculable mountain and desert—

it is here we make our home, here we choose
the marbled canyon of our ancestors.

This day, unlike any other,
is the moment of redress: our burnished land

has suffered, but not without lament—
and its people, you and I, feather or cone,

reach for the trusted and damned alike,
to affirm what has been given.

It has always been up to us:
a generation for whom dust and wind

define the seeds of family—
whether child or mother, stone or river,

we begin this praise and praise again,
that what is done, be done for those to come.

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