Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem: At age 22 poet laureate Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in history when she read her poem, “The Hill We Climb” at Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021.
During a time of shocking national division, Amanda Gorman provided us with proof that creativity is greater than destruction. and words are more powerful than bullets.
Here is Amanda reading her poem at Joe Biden’s inauguration day:
Transcript: Full Text / Lyrics of The Hill We Climb Poem:
Amanda Gorman’s brilliant poem, The Hill We Climb, is dense and needs to be read carefully so that the meaning, wordplay can be appreciated. Here are the lyrics:
When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried. That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. T
hat is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption. We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens, but one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left. Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid. The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.
Notice Amanda Gorman’s Ring at Biden’s Inauguration!
Thank you! I would be nowhere without the women whose footsteps I dance in. While reciting my poem, I wore a ring with a caged bird—a gift from @Oprah for the occasion , to symbolize Maya Angelou, a previous inaugural poet. Here’s to the women who have climbed my hills before. https://t.co/5Tegd20sko— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) January 20, 2021
If you look closely you’ll see that Amanda Gorman is wearing a ring with a caged bird. This was a gift from Oprah for the inauguration as a tribute to Maya Angelou, who read her poem called, “The Pulse of Morning,” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.
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Amanda Gorman’s Inspiration for Her Inuagural Poem:
Amanda Gorman calls herself a “wordsmith and change-maker” on her website. Her writing focuses on themes of oppression, feminism, race in America. Her inauguration poem drew inspiration from the speeches of great American leaders during times of division like Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lincoln.
Although the theme of the event was “America United,” Amanda wasn’t given any specific direction of what to write. However, the recent storming of the Capitol Building by Trump rioters on January 6th would provide her with more than enough inspiration for her poem.
Amanda told the NY Times, “We have to confront these realities if we’re going to move forward, so that’s also an important touchstone of the poem… There is space for grief and horror and hope and unity, and I also hope that there is a breath for joy in the poem, because I do think we have a lot to celebrate at this inauguration.”
Short Amanda Gorman Bio:
Amanda was born in Los Angeles, California, and was raised Catholic by a single mother along with two siblings including her twin sister, Gabrielle.
At an early age she became interested in writing and was inspired by Toni Morrison as well as the Marianne Williamson quote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Gorman was chosen as the first youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014, and National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.
Amanda studied sociology at Harvard College and graduated cum laude in 2020 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Jill Biden first saw Amanda read one of her poems at the Library of Congress, and was so impressed that she recommended that Joe feature her at his inauguration.