I can hardly express how relieved I am today now that the inauguration of the 46th American President is behind us, nor how my spirit is beginning to lift, despite the horrors of covid-19 still ahead. I am choosing to believe, I need to believe, that President Biden and Vice President Harris will be able to make a difference, and that the world is a little safer today than it was yesterday. The new president is decent, honorable, and honest in a way America hasn’t seen in four years, and will have a very strong, capable, progressive team behind him. As I write this, I keep my fingers crossed and repeat the lines of Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb” in my head.
The poet Jane Hirshfield wrote some lovely words about it. ” The poem opens not with any declaration, but with a question, an invitation to think and feel together: how to find, in a time of chaos, darkness, confusion, division, some light by which this country can go forward. Amanda Gorman names the causes and conditions of suffering – difference, fear, inertia – and, as she names, forgives them: “a nation that isn’t broken / but simply unfinished.” The generosity of that thought is not to be taken for granted, it is the gift of a way of seeing, a path in itself. “What just is” might, through such seeing and saying, become “justice.” And finally, Gorman includes the precariousness of the good she calls for, even within her optimism that it will come to exist, in the perfect balancing act of the ending:
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
These lines that bow toward “the land of the free and the home of the brave” change and extend it. They promise the arrival of the light the poem asked for at its opening, then remind that a new dawn needs us, our active collaboration, to come to its blooming. That the light we count on counts, in turn, on us.”
I’ll let Amanda Gorman and Jane Hirschfield speak for me.