The Hill We Climb

Amanda Gorman 1998 (California)

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 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 hours 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 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 lighten 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 stepped 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 deception. 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 birth right.

So let us leave behind a country better than 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 through the gold-limbed hills in 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 sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover, in every known nook of our nation, in 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.

About this poem

Amanda Gorman’s poem "The Hill We Climb" is a powerful call to action and a celebration of the unifying power of hope. The poem is a reminder of the power of collective action and of the importance of working together to create change. The poem begins with a description of a dark and tumultuous present. Gorman juxtaposes this with an optimistic message of hope, emphasizing the power of coming together and working towards a brighter future. She emphasizes the importance of each individual’s contribution, in spite of the obstacles they may face.

The poem is written in free verse and is organized into three stanzas, each with its own distinct message. The first stanza paints a vivid picture of the present, emphasizing the darkness and chaos that many are currently facing. Gorman uses vivid imagery and powerful language to describe the current state of the world, such as “bloodied sky” and “nations divided.” This stanza serves to highlight the current difficulties and serves as a reminder of the work that needs to be done.

The second stanza is a call to action, emphasizing the importance of collective action in overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of progress. Gorman uses imagery of a hill that must be climbed to emphasize the difficulty of the task ahead. She encourages readers to work together, emphasizing that each individual has something to contribute in the journey towards progress.

The final stanza is a celebration of the power of hope, emphasizing the importance of coming together to create change. Gorman uses imagery of a sun rising to convey her message of optimism and to remind readers that brighter days are ahead. She emphasizes the power of collective action and of the importance of each individual in achieving progress.

Overall, Gorman’s poem "The Hill We Climb" is a powerful call to action and a reminder of the power of collective action. Through vivid imagery and powerful language, Gorman emphasizes the importance of coming together and working towards a brighter future. The poem is a celebration of the power of hope and serves as a reminder of the importance of each individual in achieving progress.

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Submitted on January 18, 2021

Modified by acronimous on February 16, 2023

3:47 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme X X A X X A B C X X X A X X X B C
Characters 3,905
Words 746
Stanzas 17
Stanza Lengths 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1

Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman is an American poet and activist from Los Angeles, California. Gorman's work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. Gorman is the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. Her poem “The Hill We Climb" was recited at the Joe Biden’s 2021 US presidential inauguration. more…

All Amanda Gorman poems | Amanda Gorman Books

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Discuss the poem The Hill We Climb with the community...

  • pkmason1954
    I fear I'm too old to be inspired by this work, but hope I'm around when a slim black, brainy girl is president!
    LikeReply3 months ago
  • Bo23b
    This is not a "poem" it is a treatise of sophomoric banalities. Just as other "poets" played tennis without a net (see Maya Angelou) this deserves no accolades.
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • John1-1
    This poem is the musings of a young person and I love the rambling idealism of youth.
    But it does not stand on it's own. It relies on common cultural knowledge, and that commonality is overestimated. There is no traumatic imagery to counter and support the message of hope, just vague references. You could say that her audience of Americans in January of 2021 understands her but that does not make it poetic. 
    LikeReply1 year ago
  • lisam.64887
    The problem with activism and activist is it ignores the very Democracy and Liberty it claims to represent!
    Name a single supposed activist Democratically elected by the people they claim to represent and support?
    Name a single supposed "community" represented by Democratically elected leaders! Not feminist, not black, not Hispanic, not "LGBTQ or any other represents Democracy or individual freedom and liberty!
    They represent segregation and exploitation while ignoring the individual spirit and individual rights and replace them with catchy phrases of "intersectionality", "diversity, equity, and inclusion". They hate the very things they claim to want and support and replace them with the very prejudice and lack of democracy they claim to be against!
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • dead_s
      I love how this poem triggers white people.
      LikeReply 111 months ago
  • lindakr
    I like this poem. It tells the truth about the history of the United and the struggles of different groups in this country. It is a poem that is inspirational and encourages us to join together for peace and prosperity. 
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • Philipo
    Up there with the best of the best. All the stanzas there are heavily packed. Fine work here.
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • Matthew_Love
    I enjoyed the poem. It is moving and inspirational. I wish she would not have referenced the J6 incident in the poem. The poem is stronger than politics.
    If your poems are only for certain kinds of people than count me out.
    If a white man cannot translate your poems. Count me out. If you think power has one gender or race than count me out. If your poem understands the plight and destruction of all Americans than count me in. 
    LikeReply 32 years ago
  • student_m
    it is so beautifully written.
    LikeReply 23 years ago
  • chyerel_c
    That got it ! It said it all . Now thats a true patriot . All else is a fraud .
    LikeReply 23 years ago
  • Brasko
    This poem is so beautiful - it touched us deeply. It was so beautifully recited
    LikeReply 33 years ago
  • MEKilpatrick
    We just heard an angel from Los Angelos - Amanda Gorman!
    LikeReply 43 years ago
  • omara.64336
    The poem is beautiful. Maintains impeccable rhythm and harmony. Perhaps my comment that I was naive was not due to the issue of hope, such as making an equivalence between democracy and elements of immanent order such as faith. Definitely a cute poem. 
    LikeReply 43 years ago
  • stephens.65241
    This poem by Amanda Gorman is one of greatness, that rivals the most inspirational speeches that have stirred me in my 78 years. I cannot think of a time in recent years that I wanted to be a member of this "club" called the human race until hearing her words today. I will have to remove my license plate frame that says "Beam me up Scotty" and replace it with "I am proud to be one of you, Amanda Gorman." 
    LikeReply 103 years ago
  • myrna_s
    The poem was Beautiful, Hopeful and Moving.
    LikeReply 53 years ago
  • mariem.64850
    Beautiful Poem !! Your Family and I are Proud of you !! ⚘⚘
    LikeReply 43 years ago
  • sues.65161
    Such a beautiful poem. Such a beautiful young lady. Thank you, Amanda!
    LikeReply 53 years ago
  • rebeccaw.65098
    Powerful and inspirational message of hope
    LikeReply 43 years ago
  • jabez_s
    Is this the worse poem in history? McGonagall eat your heart out.
    LikeReply 13 years ago
  • KrisG
    Outstanding young woman & message! You were heard today!!
    LikeReply 43 years ago
  • Joyegg
    I am moved by your words. Look forward to rereading this piece as presented at President Biden’s swearing in.
    LikeReply 43 years ago
  • omara.64336
    This poem is Too naive.
    LikeReply 23 years ago
    • Adtowns
      so was The Dream Speech. You continue to strive. A work in progress.
      LikeReply 53 years ago
    • 434343GGG
      I don’t think it’s naive to be hopeful and to believe that we can be better. What part(s) do you think are naive and why? It’s not helpful to just issue an opinion without explanation.
      LikeReply 33 years ago
    • omara.64336
      right. My opinion is perhaps due to thinking that words, s in poetry, should
      suspend language, make it a contemplation in itself. Amanda's poem is
      beautiful, its rhythmicity shows a wonderful sensitivity. Only when he talks
      about democracy, it seems naive to me that he makes sense of it by appealing to
      an analogy with something hagiographic such as faith. But it doesn't detract
      from its pretty message.
      LikeReply3 years ago
    • Babshearth
      she is after all, 22. Naïveté is the core of dreams.
      LikeReply 23 years ago
    • benb.67163
      If hope is naïve, how would you recommend we proceed without it?
      LikeReply 33 years ago
  • sierral.64031
    I was moved after listening to the poem during the inauguration.
    LikeReply 193 years ago
    • rinat
      Me too!
      LikeReply 93 years ago
  • chayamsu
    even the title of the poem "the hill we climb" seems to be the doorway to oneness. besides, the whole poem gives the feeling of protest against the foes who try to shatter the unity of a nation not only to the americans but to the people of whole nations of the world.
    great my dear youngest friend amanda gorden.
    Iet the wisdom come to us from the surroundings.
    LikeReply 173 years ago


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