Literary Devices In The Hill We Climb

Introduction to “The Hill We Climb”

The poem “The Hill We Climb” is a powerful literary piece of work, written by Amanda Gorman. It was rendered at the inauguration ceremony of Joe Biden, who became the 46th President of the United States of America on January 20, 2021. Gorman is considered a political and young inaugural poet in the history of the United States. She secured the attention of millions with her influential words. The poem became an important emblem symbolizing America. It expresses the whole perspective of life with a message full of hope and togetherness in the wake of the recent historical disasters in the America.

Short Summary of “The Hill We Climb”

The poem commences by focusing on the theme of struggle in the lives of the Americans. The poet admits the crucial time in the history of the native people, and suggest that they are capable of transformation. The poem deals with the questions of perseverance, collectiveness, and persistence in achieving justice and human rights.

It challenges the people residing in the country to come out of the regional, political or other prejudices to build a dream country that offers equal opportunities to all. Gorman uses figurative language to give her words even more meaning for her audience, and gracefully concludes the poem with a promise for a better future.

Themes in “The Hill We Climb”

There are numerous themes in “The Hill We Climb”. Each them is interwind with the message of hope and unity.

  1. Resilience: The theme of resilience indicates the spirit of the Americans. This is evident from the circumstances depicted in the poem. The author suggests that the strength and endurance are necessary to overcome the significant challenges.
  2. Unity and Solidarity: Gorman calls for the unity of the Americans and go beyond the differences in order to build a society as a global world. To her, it is possible to achieve the social errands through solidarity and cooperation.
  3. Justice and Equality: Another important theme in the poem is to fight for the justice and equality. Gorman reflects the historical and under way efforts for the civil rights and urges calling for a continuous commitment to these ideals.
  4. Hope and Renewal: The poem is hopeful despite the fact that the poet acknowledge the difficulties that people are facing. Gorman speaks about the “dawn” and a “light”. This symbolizes the capability for a brighter future and the possibility of transformation.

Literary Devices in “The Hill We Climb”

1- Alliteration

“We will rise from the golden hills of the west,
We will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
We will rise from the sunbaked south.”

In the stanza, the use of alliteration is found in the words of ‘golden hills’, ‘windswept northeast’, ‘lake-rimmed cities’ and ‘sunbaked south’.

The repetition of initial sound contributes the rhythmic and musical effect. Through alliteration, the unity of the American people and the different ways through which they united from the different parts of the country has been shown.

It provides the ‘musicality’ in the poem and makes it easier to be appreciated in terms of literary features by the audience.

Moreover, by using the repeating phrase “we will rise”, the poet reinforces the collective effort and the determination of the Americans in a shared vision of progress.

Read also: The Century Quilt Literary Devices

2- Imagery

“When day comes, we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions of what just is
isn’t always just-ice.”

Gorman employs imagery to portray the visual contrast between “light” and “never-ending shade”.

It highlights a perception of searching hope in the time of darkness. The “loss we carry” has been compared to “a sea we must wade”, which produces a strong imagery of the astounding nature of grief and challenges that that we must overcome.

The use of imagery helps the audience to visualize the emotions of the poem. It makes the abstract concepts of hope to be felt like real and relatable.

3- Metaphor

“We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions of what just is
isn’t always just-ice.”

The use of metaphor “belly of the beast” compares the difficult situation faced by the American people. It reflects that they have faced the powerful and destructive threat.

The use of metaphor referred above conveys the intensity of the challenges without directly corresponding them.

It allows the audience to understand the hardships through a vivid imagery. Gorman indicates the courage and strength needed to overcome these difficulties.

See also: Literary Devices Used in a Poison Tree

4- Personification

“We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
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.”

The poet employ the abstract concepts like “grieved”, “grew”, “hurt”, “hoped”, “tired” and “tried” to extend these words the human quality, which make them more similar and substantial to the readers.

Gorman personifies these experiences and highlights the collective emotional journey of the nation. It indicates the strength and the effort to endeavor for a better future.

The use of personification brings the notional struggle and hope of the people to the life. It also enhances the emotional impact of the poem.

See also: Literary Devices in Twelfth Night

5- Parallelism

“That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.”

The lines reflects the parallelism in the similar construction of the lines. Each line is starting with “That even as we” and follows a verb, which describes a challenge like “grieved”, “hurt” and “tired”.

The ending of the line with a verb shows a positive response of “grew”, “hoped” and “tried”. Furthermore, the use of repeating structure also highlights the contrast between the difficulties endured and the strength, which has been shown.

It creates a rhythmic and definite pattern that emphasizes the message of the poem regarding determination and hope.

It further indicates that the collective efforts is necessary for the American people to overcome the adversities.

6- Symbolism

“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.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated.”

In this stanza, “force” represents the opponents in the society and other social factors that pose threats to societal cohesion and democracy.

The force further portrays the contemporary social problems including political turmoil and prejudice, a lack of equal opportunities for people of color and women, which aim to ruin the nation.

Nevertheless, Gorman highlights that these negative forces may, at times, hamper the advancement of the democratic ideals (“democracy can be periodically delayed”), but they cannot shatter the spirit and principles of democracy.

7- Juxtaposition

“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.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose,
to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and
conditions of man.”

In the stanza, Gorman employs the juxtaposition to contrasting ideas the imperfection and purposeful unity.

The use of phrase ‘far from polished’, ‘far from pristine’ are set against the image of a people ‘striving to form a union with purpose”.

The poet highlights that the people may not be perfect, however they should be committed to form a inclusive society.

When Gorman pairs “polished” and “pristine” with the idea of purpose, one can better understand that the concept of unity does not merely refer to a clean and smooth surface, but to a higher, more meaningful level.

This contrast fits the notion of progress and the fight against prejudice in favor of an optimistic view of human identity that can be summarized in the phrase “committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.”

The use of juxtaposition purposefully conveys the message that the strength of a nation lies in its purpose.

Literary Devices In The Hill We Climb
Literary Devices In The Hill We Climb

To conclude, the poem is a beautiful source to deliver strong and unambiguous messages. The use of literary devices in the poem serve to strengthen the poem’s message of hope, unity, and resilience.

In her very inspiring and impacting speech, Gorman is appealing to American people urging them to chase for a better society that will be based on equality. The poem can be seen as a poem of hope and dedication of the power of words as well as hope to a better future.

See also: Literary Devices Used in The Road

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