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Landscape: a sunny cloud over a hill

A Review of Amanda Gorman’s 'The Hill We Climb'

Submitted by Editor on 25 March 2024

Amanda Gorman’s poem 'The Hill We Climb,' delivered at the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021, has found a way to cement its place in history as a means to preach hope, unity, and resilience to Americans — although, who said the message has to be society-bound? In this essay therefore, I shall explore the depth and impact of Gorman’s poem, foregrounding its relevance and significance in today’s socio-political landscape.

To start with, it is no news to say that Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, enchanted the whole world with her awe-inspiring recitation. The exploration of themes like hope and progress, and racial justice and black strength makes the piece stand out till today. Amanda’s magic started right from the opening lines, wherein she transports listeners into a realm where words become double entendre, being both soothing and inciting. 

Furthermore, one of the most impressive parts of 'The Hill We Climb' is its inquisition into America’s complex history and ongoing struggle for justice and equality. Gorman, leveraging on pun and imagery, intertwines both past and present by drawing parallels between historical injustices and the pressing issues at hand. Through the images foregrounded in the poem and its lyrical puns, she reminds us that progress is not linear, but rather a continuous ascent. Meaning, progress is a climb saddled with obstacles, but the unwavering resolve of those who dare to dream at all makes it achievable.

Moreover, Gorman’s poem serves as a protest cry for unity in the glaring face of division. It is not far-fetched to say that there exists some certain levels of division in then America. However, with each carefully crafted stanza, Amanda emphasises the importance of coming together as a nation, jettisoning differences and embracing the humanity we share instead. 

In furtherance, Gorman’s performance of the poem adds another layer of complexity to the poem. In short, it is a testament that spoken word performance brings life to page poetry. Therein, the audience could not only hear the words as she said them, but also feel them as if they were in the poem. Her flawless delivery amplifies the poem’s impact, running a sense of urgency and conviction through the audience’s psyche. 

In conclusion, Amanda Gorman’s 'The Hill We Climb' stands as a testament to the enduring power of poetry to inspire, provoke, and unite. With its timeless themes, the poem serves as a beacon of hope in an uncertain world, reminding us of our capacity to overcome adversity and create a more just and equitable society.