Amanda Gorman: “The Hill We Climb”
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 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’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 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 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 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 was always light.
If only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.