NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Read or watch the amazingly talented Amanda Gorman’s 2021 inaugural poem

Today, after Pres­i­dent Joe Biden deliv­ered his Inau­gur­al Address, Nation­al Youth Poet Lau­re­ate Aman­da Gor­man read a poem com­posed in hon­or of the occa­sion, which was, with­out ques­tion, one of the top high­lights of the inau­gur­al cer­e­monies. If you did not get a chance to watch or lis­ten to Gor­man’s stir­ring ren­di­tion of this beau­ti­ful com­po­si­tion, you can do so right now, right here.

You may also read the poem below. Enjoy!

2021 Inaugural Poem: The Hill We Climb

Aman­da Gor­man, Nation­al Youth Poet Lau­re­ate

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 a 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 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 merge 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 from 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 is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

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