Amanda Gorman Stuns With Powerful Inaugural Poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’

Much of Wednesday’s inau­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mo­ny for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris felt like a balm to a wound­ed nation’s soul, espe­cial­ly 22-year-old Amanda Gorman’s beau­ti­ful recita­tion of the inau­gu­ra­tion poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

Gorman, who was named the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017 and is the youngest per­son to ever deliv­er an inau­gur­al poem (as well as being an hon­oree for The Root’s Young Futurists in 2019), told the New York Times she fin­ished writ­ing the poem on the night of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

And it makes sense, giv­en that her words so per­fect­ly cap­tured the chal­lenges and pos­si­bil­i­ties that are now before us after the swear­ing-in of President Biden and Vice President Harris. In a verse that pow­er­ful­ly acknowl­edged the role she was play­ing in American his­to­ry, Gorman said this is “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.”

The rest of the poem was sim­i­lar­ly lyri­cal and inspir­ing. An excerpt:

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 we once we asked,

how could we pos­si­bly pre­vail over catastrophe?

Now we assert

How could cat­a­stro­phe pos­si­bly pre­vail over us?

Gorman fol­lows in the foot­steps of Maya Angelou, who read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inau­gu­ra­tion of for­mer President Bill Clinton in 1993. Another fun fact: the love­ly ear­rings and bird­cage ring that Gorman wore at the inau­gu­ra­tion were gift­ed to her by Oprah, who also sent Angelou a gift before her own his­toric moment.