‘The Hill We Climb’: Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration Poem Has Captivated America. Read It Here
Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first youth poet laureate, captivated the hearts of Americans and likely anyone else who was listening to her deliver the Inauguration poem on Wednesday. In doing so, the 23-year-old became the nation’s youngest inaugural poet.
She delivered her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” in front of an audience assembled on the West front of the U.S. Capitol building to celebrate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris‘ historic political achievements. However, by the time she was done, people were still buzzing about what they had just witnessed.
“As an activist from Los Angeles, her work details issues of race, feminism, oppression, and themes from the African diaspora,” Madame Noire reported.
Gorman was named the first national youth poet laureate in 2017, winning an honor bestowed upon teen poets who demonstrate literary talent and community engagement. The Harvard University graduate ocuses on the area where feminism, race, youth and community intersect and is the founder and CEO of One Pen One Page, a nonprofit organization that seeks to change the world through student storytellers.
“The Hill We Climb” touched on a number of topics du jour, including race and national unity, making it especially resonate with those who heard her deliver it. But for some people, reading words are even more powerful than hearing them read.
Below is “The Hill We Climb” in its entirety as Gorman delivered it Wednesday:
“Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world: 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?’
“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 look up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade but in all the bridges we’ve made.
“That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it, 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 for eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption we feared in 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 ask ‘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 enaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
“Our blenders become their burdens but one thing is certain: If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy in change, our children’s birthright.
“So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left. With 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 winds swept north, east where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rinsed cities of the midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked 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. The new dawn blooms 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.”
Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman delivered her original composition, "The Hill We Climb," at the U.S. Capitol during the inauguration ceremony for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Watch her performance in full.