Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb,” made her the first young black girl to participate in a presidential inauguration. Each word in the poem was carefully selected and powerfully articulated using simple and relatable language culminating into the powerful speech. In the poem, Gordon writes in expression of hope for a more united and inclusive America. She writes, “We are striving to forge a union with a purpose to compose a country committed to all cultures, colours, characters and conditions of man,” Gorman lines 25,27). The lines summarize the poem’s purpose as a tool to urge America to unite under the new president. In this essay we review and analyses the poem examining the stylistic devices, performance meaning and wrap the analysis with a personal view.
Repetition is evident in lines 5 and 6, lines 12 and 13, and lines 37, 39 and 40. The repetition of personal words like “we have” seems to be a clear way of the author ensuring the audience identify her with the story that she is telling. In addition, in line 100, an instance of rhyme is seen, “We will rebuild, reconcile and recover” Gorman, 100. The sound “re” produces a rhyme scheme. The use of the rhyme is deliberate on words that carry thematic weight of the poem. Reconciliation and recovery efforts are pillars that the author considers important in building a better and more inclusive America. The author of Gorman’s poem takes a minimalist approach to use punctuation marks throughout the poem, mostly using commas. She also uses unconventional end of sentences with no full stop but, in an exciting twist, starts the nest sentence with capital letters. With a powerful presentation and supplementation of her punctuation with hand gestures, one gets the thought that the approach was deliberate to maximize her power of expression and excellent tonal variation, something that enables her to emphasize on important aspects of the speech.
As a strong performer, Gorman also gives the poem life with intentional emphasis and occasional pausing being seen in the creation. She seems to intentionally emphasize and pause on words and phrases that she thinks are important in her poem. “of what just is Isn’t always just-ice” Gorman 9 and 10. Lines 9 and 10 emphasize the word justice is highlighted, and she seems to offer the audience a moment to absorb her important message then goes on after a slight pause. The author presents a notion that as envisioned in the constitution, justice should be automatic to everyone but that does not just happen. People have work extra to get the justice. The techniques seem to have been applied throughout her narration.
Her poem is timely coming just after the Capitol hill invasion. In essence, the invasion was an act of defiance and an attempt to block President Biden from occupying the office. The White House is sometimes referred to as “The House on the Hill.” The title of the poem “The Hill We Climb” was meant to affirm that, indeed, the new president will occupy office despite the violent acts witnessed on 6th January 2021. It is an expression of optimism that justice will prevail for America after what she thinks was injustice and exclusion against certain groups in America. The inauguration appears to be a culmination of victory and justice for the pro-Biden team.
Gorman uses imagery in the poem, and that’s is evident in the concluding parts of it. “Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest” Gorman, 93. The poet terming her chest as being bronze-pounded creates a mental image of the bronze colour and possibly the metallic feel. We can also see imagery in lines 95, 96, 98 and 99 in describing the locations she cites in the poem. The description of these location using the terminologies and choice od words helps the listener who have never been to these locations develop a mental picture. The application of this element established relatability of the poem to every audience across America.
Gorman not only points the problems that have been plaguing the American people but instead offers redress. Line 52,53, and 54 are inspiring, especially the thought that Gorman presents that we are not helpless about the past; she thinks that the present and the future offer us opportunities to do the right thing.” It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit; it’s the past we step into and how we repair it” Gorman, 52,53 & 54. Issues of slavery have been handled differently for many years. With the poet’s lines of thought, she presents what seems like a preferment fix to historical injustices and judging by her race, and it could be the ones specific to the black community.
Critics of the poem point out an incidence where they view her as being disrespectful; to the presidency. Gorman says, “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” Gorman 17-20. The lines present a young individual who is entitled and thinks she can ascend to the presidency by the mere fact of being a black girl. We have had a black president before if the presidency is just about race. She shows total disrespect to the process. Like her or dislike her, one should never deny her credit for the powerful performance. It will be interesting to see how poems and such artistic expressions become an essential aspect of inaugurations in the future following Gorman’s presentation.
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