The Hill We Climb

The Hill We Climb

By Amanda Gorman

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’ve 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 just-ice.
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, 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’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 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 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 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.

Summary of The Hill We Climb

  • Popularity of “The Hill We Climb”: The poem The Hill We Climb, written by Amanda Gorman, an African American activist, writer, and poet, first appeared in 2021 when she got published her collection from Viking Books. The poem proved a hit due to the positivity it spread among the young generation with its clarity of purpose and simplicity of language. It has won popularity across the globe for defining who Americans are and what they expect to become despite facing racial discrimination and marginalization.
  • “The Hill We Climb” As a Representative of Equality and Optimism: The speaker of the poem, who is likely the poet herself, presents the situation that now the Americans are engaged in self-reflection and self-retrospection, thinking that although they have to go a long way to attain the goal of prosperity, equality, and freedom, they have learned several new things that what it seems is not always the reality. Rather, the reality lies somewhere else. Although she asserts Americans have achieved a great country and great status for that country in the world, there are shortcomings that an African American girl could not become the US president despite having requisite qualifications.
    She is of the view that Americans should get up, rise up to the occasion and remove differences, prejudices, enmities, and divisions to become truly great Americans in the world. This greatness, however, she adds, does not lie in just hard work but also in correcting our mistakes in using might that is right. Despite the diversity, she claims by the end, it is an achievable goal but with determination and willpower.
  • Major Themes in “The Hill We Climb”: Equality, optimism, and the will to bring reformation are three major thematic strands of the poem “The Hill We Climb.” The poet is of the view that they have achieved greatness as Americans, yet they have not reached the pinnacles of equality, prosperity, and freedom that they should have surmounted. Therefore, she is optimistic that they could do it, and victory would come to them if they strive hard and do not tire themselves out in bickering. She alludes to the biblical teaching of visioning things before achieving in terms of equality and freedom and comes to the point that the goal of justice is still not close and that they could achieve it if they have the power, and then they use it in a right way with bravery and courage.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in The Hill We Climb

Amanda Gorman used various literary devices to beautify her poem. Some of the major literary devices used by her are as follows.

  1. Anaphora: It means to repeat a word or a phrase in the beginning of a verse for impact. The poet used anaphora at several places, such as “that even as we” and “we will rise from.”
  2. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /a/ in “descended from slaves and raised by a single mother” and the sound of /o/ in “striving to form a union that is perfect”.
  3. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick successions, such as the sound of /c / in “could catastrophe” and /b/ in “blunders become” and again /m in “merge mercy.”
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /t/ in “we must first put our differences aside” and the sound of /z/ in “to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and.”
  5. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Amanda Gorman used imagery in this poem such as “Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed”, “descended from slaves and raised by a single mother” and “And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us.”
  6. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet used different metaphors such as history compared with people, such as “History has its eyes on us.” The poet has also used the metaphor of a country that is bruised.
  7. Personification: It means the attribution of human emotions and traits to other things or objects. The poet has used force, catastrophe, and country as personifications.
  8. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as power, country, arms, bridge, and cities to show the American landscape, country, and the vision to make it a great country.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in The Hill We Climb

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows simple, formal, and poetic language.
  2. End Rhyme and Free Verse: Although the poem is free verse having no rhyme scheme or metrical pattern, it shows the use of end rhyme in some places, such as redemption/inception and blade/made/glade.
  3. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a religious, national, ethical, and optimistic tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote to lift up the morale of the soldiers or political workers.

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.