WASHINGTON - Young poet Amanda Gorman wowed her audience with her moving poem at US President Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony on Wednesday (Jan 20).
The poem, titled The Hill We Climb and read shortly after Mr Biden took the oath of office, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country.
Ms Gorman, 22, of Los Angeles, said she finished writing her poem about national unity on the night rioters stormed the US Capitol on Jan 6 with Confederate flags, pipe bombs and a noose.
"I took it as a reminder that we need tone and feeling and spirit to help us make sense of things," she said.
Ms Gorman is the youngest poet in US history to mark the transition of presidential power, joining the ranks of previous inaugural poets Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander, with a powerful performance at the swearing-in of Mr Biden and his Vice-President Kamala Harris.
She was also the first in the US to be named National Youth Poet Laureate.
"Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It's the past we step into and how we repair it," Ms Gorman said, in her short poem that was greeted with a hail of critical acclaim on social media.
"We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free."
Speaking on the steps of the US Capitol, Ms Gorman said Americans could rise above the hatred.
"While democracy can be temporarily delayed, it can never be permanently defeated," she said. "Let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left... We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one."
"The new dawn blooms as we free it."
Here's another key excerpt from her poem:
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 truth, in this faith we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
History has its eyes on us.