Poetry Sunday: The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

The young poet, Amanda Gorman, whom most people probably had not heard of before, practically stole the show at the inauguration on Wednesday. Her poem that she shared with us seemed just about perfect for the day. Moreover, her appearance at the event caused her two books, not even published yet, to zoom to the top of the best sellers list on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I think the young woman may have a future in poetry. Here is that remarkable poem in its entirety. (The emphases are mine.)

The Hill We Climb

by Amanda Gorman

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've 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 just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we've 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 a 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’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
That is the promised 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
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 with
Every breath from 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 the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked 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,
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


  1. The whole world is now hopelessly in love with Amanda Gorman. I know I am.

    1. We have to think that if our society could produce a woman such as her, perhaps there is hope for us.

  2. My cable was acting up and I missed a lot of her presentation and I haven't gone online yet to watch it on You Tube. But seeing it in print (I'm more of a visual person), there are a number of places where the imagery is so beautiful (besides the ones you called out). Having traveled through a lot of the United States I love her descriptions of "every known nook of our nation and every corner" from our windswept northeast (that is what it was yesterday) to the gold limbed west I hope to see again one day. But I also shudder at the walk still ahead of us to find the light at the end. Thank you, Amanda, for expressing it in a way few of us can.

    1. The poem resonated because it expressed so perfectly our recent history and our hopes for our future.

  3. I love this poem so much! I couldn't take my eyes off the TV while she was speaking.

    1. The words are mesmerizing and her appearance is striking, a winning combination.

  4. Good call, Dorothy. What a well deserved success story this is. I was riveted as I watched her recite her poem!

  5. I loved hearing Amanda Gorman read her poem at Biden's inauguration. Great poem!

    1. It is a terrific poem and just what we needed, I think, at that moment.

  6. Wonderful. Optimistic despite division. I like the ending the best too!

  7. Brilliant poem. I sat on the edge of my seat, following her, not sure where she was going, but loving where she took me.

    1. She is obviously a very talented poet. It will be interesting to see where that talent takes her in the future.


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