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Amanda Gorman recited powerful poem The Hill We Climb at Joe Biden's inauguration, here's the full transcript

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 20/01/2021

Amanda Gorman has become the youngest poet in US history to mark the transition of presidential power in a striking performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris.

Ms Gorman offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country with her poem The Hill We Climb at the 59th inauguration ceremony.

Who is Amanda Gorman and what did she say?

Ms Gorman, 22, is a Los Angeles resident. At the age of 16, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of LA. 

In 2017, she was named the first US National Youth Poet Laureate.

In her poem, which you can read in full here, she quoted biblical scripture and echoed the oratory of John F Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr among others.

"Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It's the past we step into and how we repair it," Ms Gorman said.

"We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free."

Speaking on the steps of the US Capitol just two weeks after a violent mob laid siege to the seat of American government with Confederate flags, pipe bombs and a noose, Ms Gorman said Americans could rise above the hatred.

Her short poem was greeted with a hail of critical acclaim on social media.

Reactions poured from across the country and the political spectrum, including former president Barack Obama, political action committee the Lincoln Project and Stacey Abrams, the Democratic organiser and gubernatorial candidate from Georgia, who said, "Amanda Gorman's message serves as an inspiration to us all".

Oprah Winfrey posted on Twitter: "Have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!"

Many celebrities praised Ms Gorman on Twitter, including actress Kerry Washington and actor and director Daniel Levy.

Are poets always used in inauguration ceremonies?

John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had poets read at their inauguration.

Ms Gorman now joins the ranks of previous inaugural poets Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander.

Here's a full transcript of her poem

#transcript

Mr President, Dr Biden, Madam Vice-President, Mr Emhoff, Americans and the world.

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 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, colours, 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 of 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 its inception.

We did 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 one we were left. With every breath from a bronze, pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wonderous one.

We will rise from the golden-limbed hills of the west. We will rise from the wind-swept north-east where our forefathers first realised 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 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 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.

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