Just two weeks after the riots on Capitol Hill, the inauguration of President Joe Biden took place on January 20th. Biden is now the 46th President and Kamala Harris is the very first woman, African-American, and Asian-American to ever serve as the vice president of the United States. But, despite these momentous aspects of this wondrous day, a young poet named Amanda Gorman stole the show with her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Amanda became the youngest inaugural poet in American history at 22 years old. She fell in love with poetry at a young age and distinguished herself quickly as a rising talent. Amanda was discovered by First Lady Jill Biden during one of her readings at the Library of Congress. Amanda wasn’t given specific guidelines about what to write for her poem: “They did not want to put up guardrails for me at all,” she told the New York Times. “The theme for the inauguration in its entirety is ‘America United,’ so when I heard that was their vision, that made it very easy for me to say, great, that’s also what I wanted to write about in my poem, about America united, about a new chapter in our country.” A few weeks before the inauguration, Gorman struggled to finish “The Hill We Climb,” and was overcome with exhaustion. “I had this huge thing, probably one of the most important things I’ll ever do in my career,” she said. “It was like, if I try to climb this mountain all at once, I’m just going to pass out.” She was halfway done with her poem when the rioters stormed Capitol Hill. Amanda then stayed up all night, voraciously impassioned, finishing her poem off with some added verses about what had happened that day:
“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.”
She felt the poem needed to recognize the dark chapter in American history we are currently living through. “We have to confront these realities if we’re going to move forward, so that’s also an important touchstone of the poem,” she said. “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.”
Amanda’s poem helped us realize that the future of our nation can consist of unity and aspiration, if we listen to and help each other throughout the good days as well as the bad.
Here is an excerpt from “The Hill We Climb”:
“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.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
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.”
Amanda’s poem was beautifully written and I’m sure we all are anticipating to see her future work and poems.
“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.”
source/credit: The New York Times