28th May 2021 A Candle in the Window Peter Millar
A poem for us all in such times: President Biden’s Inaugural Poem by the prophetic 22 year old American poet Amanda Gorman. Recited by Amanda at the Inauguration in Washington DC on the 20th of January 2021.
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 justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and time 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.
And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine. But this doesn’t mean we’re striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colours, characters, and conditions of man. And so we lift our gaze not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide, because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so that we can reach our arms out 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. That we’ll forever be tied together. Victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that: “Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.” If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promised glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare it: because being American is more than a pride we inherit – it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be heirs of such a terrifying hour. But within it we have found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked: How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert: How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: A country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around, or interrupted by intimidation, because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain: if we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change, our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left. With every breath from our bronze-pounded chests, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover, in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country, our people, diverse and dutiful. We’ll emerge, battered but beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid. 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.
From Amanda Gorman’s new book: The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem Chatto and Windus, London, 2021. ISBN 978-1-784-74460-1
*** You will go out with joy and be led forth in peace, the mountains and the hills before you will burst into song, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah Chapter 55 ***
We remember all the young people in our world who today are praying and working for a new world order. For new ways of living together in which justice matters, and where everyone is of equal value on our small planet. pm