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Amanda Gorman, 22, delivers powerful inaugural poem: 'There is always light'

The youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history delivered a rousing reading of her poem "The Hill We Climb" to widespread acclaim at the inauguration.
/ Source: TODAY

The youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history was one of the brightest lights in a star-studded inauguration on Wednesday when she delivered a rousing rendition of a poem she wrote for the ceremony.

Amanda Gorman, 22, drew praise for her spoken-word performance of her poem, "The Hill We Climb," which climaxed with the lines, "For there is always light / If only we’re brave enough to see it / If only we’re brave enough to be it."

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Wearing a yellow Prada coat, red headband and earrings given to her by Oprah Winfrey, the Los Angeles resident followed in the proud tradition of inaugural poets from Robert Frost to Maya Angelou with her magnetic reading at the inauguration for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

It was the latest impressive milestone for the young poet, who was named the first Youth Poet Laureate in Los Angeles in 2014 and the nation's first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.

Her uplifting poem also referenced the violent riot of pro-Trump supporters at the Capitol on Jan. 6. in which the foundation of America's democracy was attacked.

"We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it," she said. "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."

Her reading of "The Hill We Climb," which came after a soaring rendition of the national anthem by Lady Gaga and performances by Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks, left people inspired and also blown away by her talent at such a young age.

"YES @TheAmandaGorman!!! -LMM," tweeted Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of "Hamilton," which was referenced in her poem.

Gorman confirmed that she included "Hamilton" references in "The Hill We Climb," replying to Miranda in a tweet, "Thx @Lin_Manuel ! Did you catch the 2 @HamiltonMusical references in the inaugural poem? I couldn’t help myself!"

Oprah shared a photo of Gorman at the inauguration on Instagram and wrote, "I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @amandascgorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I."

"22 years old with the wisdom and strength of the ancestors! #AmandaGorman #InaugurationDay" former congressional candidate Jaime Harrison tweeted.

"Thank you, Amanda Gorman, for sharing such powerful and inspiring words today," Sen. Cory Booker tweeted.

"Lady Gaga pointing to the flag, President Biden pointing to the Union and Amanda Gorman pointing to the future. It’s a triple play America!" Washington Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted.

"Amanda Gorman’s message serves as an inspiration to us all," Democratic organizer Stacey Abrams tweeted.

Gorman was first contacted last month by the Biden inaugural committee to do the reading, according to The Associated Press. She had been recommended by new first lady Jill Biden.

She finished writing the second half of the nearly six-minute poem in the wake of the riot two weeks ago.

"That day gave me a second wave of energy to finish the poem,” she told the AP. "The poem isn't blind. ."