The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States was bound to be an unpredictable affair: In the midst of a global pandemic and in the wake of unprecedented violence on that same spot just two weeks before, it was anything but the typical ceremony we’ve come to expect for a new president.
But maybe the most surprising element of that day was that a young poet, and the amazing original poetry she recited to mark the occasion, would be the highlight of the day, even among appearances by the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga.
Amanda Gorman, at 22 the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history, became the first National Youth Poet Laureate while still an undergrad at Harvard. Invited to appear at the inauguration after Dr. Jill Biden spotted her at a reading at the Library of Congress, Gorman recited a poem she completed after the deadly events at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” included the since much-quoted stanza:
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated.
As everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Lin-Manuel Miranda sings Gorman’s praises, we’re reminded of the power of poetry to heal, move, and excite. With that in mind, we’d like to hear from you about your favorite poet or poem: What poet or work has most meant something to you during the hard times in your life, or just day to day?
Let us know in the Boston.com survey below or e-mail [email protected], and we’ll include your responses in an upcoming article.
Get Boston.com's browser alerts:
Enable breaking news notifications straight to your internet browser.