22-year-old poet delivers stirring inaugural message of hope

By , KCBS Radio

Los Angeles-based poet Amanda Gorman, 22, delivered a stirring reading of her original poem "The Hills We Climb" at President Joe Biden's inauguration.

Gorman told The New York Times she was only halfway done with the work when a violent siege broke out at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, which inspired her to finish the poem.

In 2017, Gorman became the country's first National Youth Poet Laureate.

She was recommended as an inaugural speaker by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, joining the ranks of such celebrated poets as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. Gorman's speech was quickly lauded on social media for her inspiring message of bravery, unity and purpose.

Read the full transcript of "The Hills 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 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 unfinished
We the successors of a country in 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 lighten the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made, that is the promise to glade
The hill to 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 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
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 of flame
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

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram