SALT LAKE CITY — President Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony featured not just the swearing-in of a new commander in chief, it featured musical performances by such stars as Lady Gaga, Garth Brooks and Jennifer Lopez.
Yet the most memorable moment of the ceremony may have come from a 22-year-old poet from Los Angeles named Amanda Gorman, who recited her poem "The Hill We Climb." In doing so, she became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history — joining a group of poets who have performed at an inauguration ceremony that includes the likes of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
According to CNBC, Gorman struggled to complete the poem until the night of a failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — the same building that she stood in front of as she recited her poem. The moment was viewed as a snapshot of the political division that has grown over time.
Despite the moment of division, Gorman's poem offered optimism toward unity in America.
Some memorable snippets from the poem included:
"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"
"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"
"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"
The Hill transcribed and published the full poem text on its website. You can also watch the performance here.
Congratulations Amanda Gorman. You just won the hearts of every American.— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) January 20, 2021
"That poem. Wow. And that poet. Phillis Wheatley would be proud," Cox tweeted in a pair of tweets. "Congratulations Amanda Gorman. You just won the hearts of every American."
Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., shared a few of her favorite lines from the poem on Twitter. "Wow!" she tweeted as Gorman recited her poem.
Gorman took to Twitter Wednesday afternoon to thank all the people who congratulated her on her poem that stole the spotlight of the day.
Thank you! I would be nowhere without the women whose footsteps I dance in. While reciting my poem, I wore a ring with a caged bird—a gift from @Oprah for the occasion , to symbolize Maya Angelou, a previous inaugural poet. Here's to the women who have climbed my hills before. https://t.co/5Tegd20sko— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) January 20, 2021
"Thank you! I would be nowhere without the women whose footsteps I dance in," she tweeted. "While reciting my poem, I wore a ring with a caged bird — a gift from @Oprah for the occasion, to symbolize Maya Angelou, a previous inaugural poet. Here's to the women who have climbed my hills before."