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Political Poet's Corner


Linda Pastan

On the Steps of the Jefferson Memorial

Inaugural Poem

Amanda Gorman

The Hill We Climb



Nikki Giovanni

A poem of Friendship

Black Aspiration

Nikki Giovanni


Voter Rights

Nikki Giovanni



The Hill We Climb

Amanda Gorman

Inaugural Poem

When day comes we ask ourselves

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry asea we must wade.

We’ve braved the belly of the beast.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.

In 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 our union with purpose.

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, 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 will 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 her own time,

then victory won’t lie in the blade,

but in all 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.

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 it at its inception.

We did not 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 my bronze-pounded chest

We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the gold-limned hills of the West.

We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast,

where our forefathers first realized revolution.

We will rise from the Lake Rim 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,

in 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.

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