Amanda Gorman wrote and performed "The Hill We Climb" to celebrate the 2021 inauguration of Joe Biden as 46th President of the United States. The poem celebrates the U.S. not as a "perfect union," but as a country that has the grit to struggle with its all-too-real problems. Progress, the poem argues, doesn't happen all at once: it's a slow and sometimes painful "climb" up the "hill" of justice, a climb that takes patience and humility. To this poem's speaker, change is hard work, but it's always possible: dedicated Americans can see—and be!—the "light" of a better future.
When day comes, ...
... we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered ...
... reciting for one.
And yes, we ...
... conditions of man.
And so we ...
... again sow division.
Scripture tells us ...
... we repair it.
We’ve seen a ...
... eyes on us.
This is the ...
... prevail over us?’
We will not ...
... our children’s birthright.
So let us ...
... reconcile, and recover.
In every known ...
... to be it.
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
Gorman's Website — Visit Gorman's own website and learn more about her life and work.
A Brief Biography — Read a short biography of Gorman from the Academy of American Poets.
Gorman in The Guardian — Read a newspaper article about Amanda Gorman's performance of this poem at Joe Biden's inauguration. The poem earned rapturous praise not just in the U.S., but all around the world.
Gorman Performs the Poem — Watch Gorman's powerful performance of the poem at Joe Biden's inauguration.
An Interview with Gorman — Read an interview Gorman gave to National Public Radio about this poem.
1When day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
2The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.
3We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
4We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
5and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
6And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it.
7Somehow we do it.
8Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken,
9but simply unfinished.
10We, 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.
11And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine,
12but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
13We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
14To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.
15And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
16We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
17We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
18We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
19Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
20That even as we grieved, we grew.
21That even as we hurt, we hoped.
22That even as we tired, we tried.
23That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
24Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
25Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.
26If 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.
27That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
28It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
29It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
30We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it.
31Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
32This effort very nearly succeeded.
33But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
34it can never be permanently defeated.
35In this truth, in this faith, we trust,
36for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
37This is the era of just redemption.
38We feared it at its inception.
39We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour,
40but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
41So while once we asked, ‘How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?’ now we assert, ‘How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?’
42We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be:
43A country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
44We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
45Our blunders become their burdens.
46But one thing is certain:
47If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright.
48So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
49With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
50We will rise from the golden hills of the west.
51We will rise from the wind-swept north-east where our forefathers first realized revolution.
52We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
53We will rise from the sun-baked south.
54We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
55In every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country,
56our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge, battered and beautiful.
57When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
58The new dawn blooms as we free it.
59For there is always light,
60if only we’re brave enough to see it.
61If only we’re brave enough to be it.