Amanda Gorman made history Wednesday as the youngest known inaugural poet. The 22-year-old Los Angeles resident delivered her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in Washington, D.C.
Ahead of the performance, Gorman spoke about the impact of her poem with “CBS This Morning” and noted how the message changed after the violent attack on the Capitol. “I wanted it to be a message of hope and unity. And I think that Wednesday for me really just underscored how much that was needed,” she said. “But to not turn a blind eye to the cracks that really need to be filled.”
In 2017, Gorman became the first National Youth Poet Laureate. The Harvard graduate plans to release a children’s book of poems later this year. Like Mr. Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment throughout her life, making poetry a “lifeline” for her. Also like Mr. Biden, she has a long-term goal of running for president.
Read “The Hill We Climb” below.
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 have braved the belly of the beast.
We have 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 hours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we have weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country in 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 gazes, 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 will forever be tied together.
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 are to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lighten in the blade,
But in all of the bridges we have made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill be climbed.
If only we dare it because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It is the past we step into and how we repair it.
We have 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 had our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption. We feared it 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.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with the right,
Then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind the country better than the one we were left,
With every breath in my bronze-pounded chest,
We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold limbed 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 midwestern states.
We will rise from the sunbaked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover in 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 aflame and unafraid.
A new dawn looms as we free it,
For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it,
If only we are brave enough to be at.
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