Wednesday, January 20, 2021

There is always light


...our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and 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
Amanda Gorman, in “The Hill We Climb”

I was riven by Amanda Gorman's fiercely resolute poem for the inauguration, drawn not only by the images of light, but the way she lays out what the light demands of us. Where can we find light, she asks, among all the shade of events recent and distant? Look around, look inside. Strive, not for the perfect union, but "forge a union with purpose." Look not at "what stands between us/but what stands before us".

She demands we see ourselves, see each other, as aflame, always alight, always light. If you wish, she whispers, you can be all flame.

I had used pieces of John O'Donohue's "Matin"s at a day of reflection earlier this week, and Gorman's images gave me a very different read of that poem.

"Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn.

The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to colour.


May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love."

John O’Donohue, from "Matins" in To Bless the Space Between Us


  1. I was transfixed both by her words and her delivery. She didn't just read the poem, she acted it. I'm sure we will hear much more from her.

  2. Not since Maya Angelou have we had such a poet laureate!