Thoughts on “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

In our current society, poets and poetry rarely get the broad recognition they deserve. An exception to this is The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman. When she read this poem to the nation as the Youth Poet Laureate at Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony on January 20, 2021, I for one was floored. That a 22-year-old poet could compose such powerful and timely words, and present them with poise, dignity, and inspired optimism, renewed my belief in the power of words to foment change in our world. Regardless of which side of the political divide we may find ourselves, it is impossible to deny that Ms. Gorman’s words were able to bridge that divide and offer hope in what was a difficult time.

In her introduction to the printed version of the poem, Oprah Winfrey wrote:

Everyone who watched came away enhanced with hope and marveling at seeing the best of who we are and can be through the eyes and essence of a twenty-two-year-old, our country’s youngest presidential inaugural poet.

I am in complete agreement.

There are two short excerpts from this incredible poem that I would like to share.

And so we lift our gazes not
To what stands between us,
But to what stands before us.
We close the divide,
Because we know to put
Our future first, we must first
Put our differences aside.

The truth of this statement is self-evident. We cannot advance as a nation, or as a species, unless we learn to stop vilifying those who have differing opinions and beliefs. Focus needs to shift from differences to commonalities.

So while we once asked: How could we
possibly prevail over catastrophe?
We now assert: How could catastrophe
possibly prevail over us?

This past year has been hard for all of us, and our world continues to pose challenges. But challenges, while painful to work through, often provide the spark of heroic inspiration needed to “climb the hill.” Every journey has a point where the odds seem insurmountable. We stand at this threshold. But as Amanda Gorman shows us, we can take that next step and move toward ushering in a better world for all people.

I strongly encourage you to go out and buy a copy of Ms. Gorman’s poem. It is important that we support those creative individuals who inspire us to become the best that we can be.

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Thoughts on “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

  1. Great stuff as always Jeff. Well, tomorrow is Monday so it’s another hill to climb so to speak!
    Cheers pal. Hope you and your family are well!

  2. Sometimes I can’t tell what is more painful; to be aware of how deep the divisions are, in some instances, or the awareness of how impossibly entrenched many people are in seeing life only through the lens of political ideology.

    But I do wonder if the words attributed to Jesus, the Nazarene, Love your enemies, might not be the most profound teaching I’ve ever heard. Perhaps too, suffering is the sure, necessary experience that can bring awareness, compassion, and healing insight into the body human.

    Thanks for sharing the poem, Jeff. Yes, great stuff!

    • Hi Debra. As always, thanks for your thoughtful response. Yes, Jesus’s teaching are profoundly relevant to our current socio-political situation, as is Buddha’s teachings regarding compassion. I am starting a 10-day online compass course run by Tara Brach. We need more compassion, and I desperately want to be part of the solution. Again, thanks for commenting and for being who you are.

  3. I’m happy you loved her poetry, too, Jeff. It was an unbelievably powerful performance, which filled me with so much hope.

    • Hi Monika! I hope you are well. Yes, her reading was so powerful and moving. And what fills me with the most hope is that so many young people are stepping up to provide the inspiration and leadership. In my eyes, Amanda has earned her spot beside the likes of Greta Thunberg.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Many blessings to you and your family.

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Jeff!

  5. I saw Amanda Gorman reading her poem on inauguration day – via TV satellite. It was moving and thought provoking. We still have a hill to climb.

    • I totally agree. Her delivery was stunning. Glad you got to witness it. Hope everything is well with you. As always, thanks for your comments and insights.