Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history when she spoke at the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. She was 22 years old when she read “The Hill We Climb,” a poem she finished right after the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. We continue our July Fourth special broadcast with Gorman’s remarkable address.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to poet Amanda Gorman. In January, she became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history when she spoke at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. She was 22 years old when she read “The Hill We Climb,” a poem she finished right after the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th. This is Amanda Gorman.
AMANDA GORMAN: 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.
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 isn’t broken, but simply
We, the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl,
Descended from slaves and raised by a
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
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
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.
Not because we will never again know
But because we will never again sow
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
Won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges
That is the promised 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
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our
nation rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically
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’ve 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
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might, and might
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-
We will raise this wounded world into
a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold-limned hills
of the West!
We will rise from the windswept
Northeast, where our forefathers first
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,
In every known nook of our nation,
In every corner called our country,
Our people, diverse and dutiful.
We’ll emerge, battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the
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.
AMY GOODMAN: Poet Amanda Gorman, reading her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration in January. At 22, Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet.
When we come back, we’ll speak to Emory University professor Carol Anderson about her new book, _The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America. Stay with us.