One Today

By Richard Blanco


“One Today” is a poem by Richard Blanco that resonated with millions when he recited it at President Obama’s second inauguration in 2013. As an inaugural poet, Blanco was the first immigrant, the first Latino, and the first openly gay person to hold this honor, adding rich layers to his words. 🏛️📚

The poem itself is a lyrical journey across America, encapsulating the mundane and the profound aspects of daily life while highlighting the interconnectedness of its citizens. Blanco’s style combines narrative and lyrical elements, making “One Today” a prime example of contemporary American poetry. It is an invitation to see the unity in our diversity, emphasizing how a single day reflects broader communal and personal experiences. 🇺🇸💫

Meaning of One Today

Opening Section “One Today” opens with a vivid portrayal of the American landscape, starting from the morning’s first light touching the faces of people all across the country. Blanco writes:

“One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores…”

This line sets the tone for the poem, emphasizing unity and the collective start to the day shared by all Americans, regardless of their background.

Mid Section As the poem progresses, it delves into the daily activities of various Americans, reflecting the diverse yet common experiences:

“…pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights, fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows begging our praise.”

Here, Blanco uses everyday imagery to celebrate the ordinary, presenting these scenes as vibrant, colorful parts of American life that, while routine, are worthy of appreciation and reflection.

Concluding Section The poem culminates in a powerful finale that underscores the shared hopes and dreams of the nation, coming together under one sky:

“One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes tired from work: some days guessing at the weather of our lives…”

This concluding part brings a sense of closure and reflection, emphasizing the collective aspirations and the singular “today” that Americans experience together.

In-depth Analysis

Stanza 1: Blanco uses vivid imagery to describe the dawn breaking across an American landscape, symbolizing a new beginning and a common ground for all citizens. — Stanza 2: Through metaphor and simile, he explores the daily routines, such as school buses and workdays, which despite their mundanity, contribute to the nation’s ongoing story. — Stanza 3: The final stanza wraps the poem with a contemplative tone, using the sky as a metaphor for shared dreams and universal aspirations.

  • The integration of various American landscapes and scenes creates a tapestry of national identity.
  • Blanco’s choice of simple, yet powerful diction makes the poem accessible and relatable.

Poetic Devices used in One Today

Alliteration“pencil-yellow school buses” emphasizes the rhythmic quality of the verse.
Simile“like rainbows” compares the vivid colors of fruit stands to rainbows, enhancing the imagery.
Metaphor“the weather of our lives” uses weather as a metaphor for life’s unpredictable nature.
Personification“the sun rose on us today” gives the sun human-like qualities, enhancing its warmth and presence.
Anaphora“One sun, one light…” repeats “one” to emphasize unity and continuity.
ImageryDescriptions of natural scenes and city life create vivid mental pictures.
Symbolism“One sky” symbolizes a unified national identity.
SynecdocheUsing parts of the day to represent the whole experience of the nation.
HyperboleExaggerates to emphasize the vastness and variety of American life.
Parallelism“One ground. One sky. One sea.” uses structure to underscore interconnectedness.

One Today – FAQs

What inspired Richard Blanco to write ‘One Today’? Blanco was inspired by the idea of unity and the shared identity of Americans, reflecting the diverse yet unified spirit of the nation.

How does ‘One Today’ reflect the American experience? The poem captures everyday moments and landscapes across America, highlighting the commonality of experiences and the shared dreams and challenges of its people.

Why is ‘One Today’ significant in modern American poetry? It stands as a poignant reflection of contemporary society, emphasizing inclusivity and collective identity through accessible language and vivid imagery.

What themes are prominent in ‘One Today’? Themes of unity, diversity, hope, and the everyday significance in the lives of Americans are central to the poem.

What is the main theme of ‘One Today’?
The main theme is the unity and interconnectedness of the American people, reflecting on the shared experiences across a single day.

In what context was ‘One Today’ written?
Richard Blanco wrote “One Today” for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration on January 21, 2013, aiming to capture the spirit and diversity of the United States.

How does Blanco use nature in the poem?
Nature in “One Today” serves as a universal backdrop that connects all Americans, from the sunrise that touches each person to the “one sky” under which everyone lives.

What role does diversity play in ‘One Today’?
Diversity is central to the poem, depicted through the various lives and scenes across America, celebrating both the differences and similarities that define the national identity.

How can ‘One Today’ inspire students?
Students can draw inspiration from the poem’s message of unity and community, as well as its rich use of language and poetic techniques to express broad, inclusive themes.

One Today Study Guide

Exercise: Identify all the poetic devices used in the following verse of “One Today”:

“One light waking up rooftops, under each one, a story told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.”


  • Metaphor: “light waking up rooftops” suggests light as an animate force.
  • Imagery: Detailed visuals of the morning light and the rooftops.
  • Personification: Attributes human qualities to light and silent gestures.
  • Symbolism: Windows symbolize personal and private experiences that are part of a larger narrative.

This exercise helps students recognize how Blanco uses poetic devices to enrich the textual meaning and connect deeply with the theme of unity.