An Ode to Peggy Noonan, Pulitzer Winner

April 10, 2017

by Maggie Gallagher


Ordinarily, I would thank Pulitzer board and congratulate Peggy Noonan on learning that she has been awarded a richly deserved Pulitzer Prize “[f]or rising to the moment with beautifully rendered columns that connected readers to the shared virtues of Americans during one of the nation’s most divisive political campaigns.”

My only quibble is that it should be a lifetime award achievement, stretching from her young womanhood when she worked as a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan — that golden era of reconnecting to American values — through today.

She’s not always right, though who is? But she calls us to believe in the higher things about America. Once, I was asked to introduce her when she was given a pro-life award.

Peggy Noonan for some reason reminds me of this rather melancholy and beautiful sonnet of the luscious and libertine Edna St. Vincent Millay:

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts to-night, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain,
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

It’s the last two lines: summer is still singing in Peggy Noonan. She does not come from a golden background; she’s seen her share of pain and suffering in her life and in those she loves. But summer still is singing — in her heart and, often, in mine — because of her work.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore


Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.

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