AR Staff, American Renaissance, January 21, 2021
Democrats like inaugural poems. In 1969, John Kennedy had one by Robert Frost. The genre then went silent until 1993, when Bill Clinton had Maya Angelou read a particularly sorry specimen. It was so bad, he brought in a white man for his second term: Miller Williams. Of course, Barack Obama had a black poetess, the light-skinned Elizabeth Alexander for his first inaugural, but branched out to an openly homosexual Hispanic immigrant, Richard Blanco for his second.
This year we got another black poetess, Amanda Gorman who, at age 22, was the youngest person ever to deliver a poem at an inauguration. She attended private schools and Harvard, was the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate, published a book of poetry at age 17, and opened the literary season for the Library of Congress in 2017. According to Wikipedia, her work is heavy on oppression and marginalization; no doubt she learned all about those things at Harvard.
Yesterday, she unleashed “The Hill We Climb.” For those of you who missed it, here is the text, with commentary by an AmRen reader.
“The Hill We Climb”
When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? [Nowhere, if the shade is never-ending.]
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade. [Seas are usually too deep to wade.]
We braved the belly of the beast. [“Belly of the beast” has been a cliché at least since Jack Abbot’s book of that name.]
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. [Tenses that don’t match; the mark of a true poet.]
Somehow we do it. [She rhymed “knew it” with “do it.” She’s a poet but didn’t know it.]
Somehow we 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. [She thinks she should become president?]
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. [This is a learned reference to an obscure document.]
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man. [Alliteration; this poet really likes alliteration.]
And so we lift our gaze, 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. [A poetic pun on “arms,” anatomical and Second Amendment.]
We seek harm to none and harmony for all. [Two “harms” make a “harmony.”]
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. [Three lines of alliteration in a row.]
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. [“Everyone” is singular and takes a singular verb, but we can’t expect anyone under 40 to know that.]
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. [Promise to glade? Glade is a noun, not a verb.]
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. [That was those wicked white supremacists who occupied the Capitol.]
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. [Alliteration or not, this is clearly false.]
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. [What does “its” refer to?]
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? [You ask a question; you don’t “assert” one.]
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. [More alliteration.]
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, become the future. [More alliteration!]
Our blunders become their burdens. [Yet more.]
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. [Alliteration and rhyme.]
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest [What does “bronze-pounded” mean?], we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast [Is the Northeast particularly windy?] where our forefathers first realized 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. [Re-, re-, re-.]
And every known nook [“Known nook” is very good. “Unknown Nooks” would be a good title for travel book.] 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 balloons 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. [Brave enough to be the light that can be seen only by brave people?]