Advertisement

22-Year Old Poet Amanda Gorman Stuns At Biden Inaugural

Channels Television  
Updated January 21, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: American poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the the 59th inaugural ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

Poet Amanda Gorman on Wednesday became a sudden star at age 22 at President Joe Biden’s inauguration as she recited verse inspired by the Capitol attack, touching on how democracy “can never be permanently defeated.”

Gorman was the youngest poet to recite at an inauguration, a role first given to Robert Frost by John F. Kennedy in 1961, after First Lady Jill Biden saw one of Gorman’s readings and invited her to participate at the Capitol steps.

Gorman said that she had been writing a few lines a day but stayed awake at night out of a compulsion to complete her inauguration poem, “The Hill We Climb,” following the January 6 ransacking of the Capitol by supporters of then president Donald Trump who hoped to undo Biden’s victory.

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it / Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy,” she recited.

“And this effort very nearly succeeded / But while democracy can be periodically delayed, / It can never be permanently defeated.”

Gorman, who graduated from Harvard University last year, was the first to hold the role of national youth poet laureate by the Library of Congress and earlier held a similar honor in Los Angeles, where she has started a non-profit group to promote literacy.

 

Amanda Gorman is applauded after she recited a poem during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington, Washington, DC. (Photo by JONATHAN ERNST / POOL / AFP)

 

She has previously written about the struggle for racial equality and the #MeToo movement against sexual assault.

Showing both composure and joy as she took the podium moments after Biden, Gorman opened her reading by speaking of how “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.”

Among her previous works, Gorman wrote “Tyrants Fear the Poet” to address the 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia — an episode that Biden said motivated him to challenge Trump, who had said the crowd included “very fine people on both sides.”

In an interview with National Public Radio, Gorman said that she grew up with a speech impediment in which she could not pronounce certain letters — a trait she shares with Biden, who has been open about his struggles with stuttering.

Her reading triggered loud applause at the inauguration and an avalanche of praise on social media.

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” tweeted daytime television queen Oprah Winfrey, drawing a parallel to another celebrated writer, the late Maya Angelou, who read at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration.

Joanne Liu, the former president of Doctors Without Borders, called Gorman’s recitation “the most inspiring 5:43 minutes for the longest time.”

Below, a full transcript of Gorman’s poem that has everyone talking.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Amanda Gorman recites a poem during the inauguration in Washington, DC.  Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” Poem Transcript

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.
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 justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that it isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and the 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 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.
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 promise to 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 close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside

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 it in its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of 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 benevolence, 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 merged 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.

For there was always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it.

We were left with every breath, 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 wind swept to Northeast where our forefathers first realized the revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the middle Western States.
We will arise from the sun baked South.
We will rebuild, reconciled and recover and every known nook over 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 was always light.
If only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

 

 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP