Amanda Gorman read this poem aloud at Variety’s Power of Women event presented by Lifetime. When speaking about it, she revealed that she only chose to read the poem on the way to the event, determining that this was the best way for her to get her message of women’s strength and power across.
Explore We Rise
‘We Rise’ by Amanda Gorman is an empowering poem about women’s rights, women’s strength, and what the future can look like.
The poem paints a picture of a world in which women are unapologetically speaking out and challenging the status quo. Gorman writes that when one woman stands up, she is never alone and that women are leading the way for others to do the same.
Women are no longer looking to conform to what society has dictated but are instead looking towards the horizon toward where change is going, she adds. It is the power of community, self-empowerment, and inspiring others to rise that makes the voices of these women so vital and powerful.
Ultimately, Gorman acknowledges that through uniting, women can create a force that cannot be silenced.
Structure and Form
‘We Rise’ by Amanda Gorman is a fifty-eight-line poem that is contained within one long stanza (a structure known as block form). The poem does not use a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. The lines vary in length, and the end sounds the poet chose to use. For example, “eyes” and “rise” rhyme at the ends of lines one and two, as well as “duty” and “beauty” a few lines later. But, the use of couplets is not something that’s seen throughout the entire poem.
In this poem, Gorman uses a few different literary devices. These include:
- Anaphora: the repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines. For example, “Today,” which starts lines one and three, as well as “In,” which starts lines six and eight. This is a literary device that is commonly used in Gorman’s verse.
- Alliteration: the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example, “We” and “woman’s way” in line nineteen. Readers are likely to find many different examples of alliteration in this poem.
- Internal Rhyme: this is a type of rhyme that occurs in the middle of a line of poetry. For example, “stronger” and “longer” in line thirty-six.
- Caesura: an intentional pause in the middle of a line of verse. For example, “of progress. We press for change.”
Today, everyone’s eyes
Are on us as we rise.
By women whose silence is broken.
In the first lines of this inspirational poem, the poet begins by writing that now is the time for women to rise up, care for one another, and ensure that “we” are “speaking our truth to power.” This is a commonly used phrase that’s meant to evoke passion about a specific subject. By speaking “truth,” one can attain and dismantle power. In this case, women are asked to speak “truth” to the patriarchy or any who would discredit the accomplishments of women.
It’s important, Gorman adds, while rising, to bring other women along with you. The poet notes that this is what makes people truly strong. If one woman is successful, it’s important that she promote and support those around her.
The poet wants the reader to feel empowered and inspired by these lines. She writes that it’s important for women to know and share with others that we are “victors,” not “victims.” The use of consonance in these lines helps make the connection of the words all the more powerful. It’s impossible to ignore the poet’s connection here.
A similar technique is used in the next lines with “dawn drawn.” Here, the same sounds are repeated in order to emphasize how important a new dawn, or new life and roles for women, is to the future.
We push on and act on
A difference always takes great courage.
The poet goes on to say that it is “our” job as women to “bring visibility / To the most vulnerable” because women know what it’s like to be put into a similar position. The poet uses repetition in the next lines to emphasize what women are “bringing” to the table. She writes that women are bringing to those who need “freedom,” a louder “volume” for their voices” and a clear path to success. These lines are very direct and easy to read, a trademark of Gorman’s verse.
The poet goes on to say that she knows very well that making a huge change takes bravery. It’s important to maintain one’s strength in the face of adversity and promote the success of all women.
So we encourage women who dare to stare
to speak up when they hear it.
In the next few lines, the poet goes on to say that it’s important to encourage women to stand up for themselves and stand strong in the face of fear. By uniting, the women of the world will know that there is always someone there to care for them and support them when things are hard. It is this kind of support network that’s necessary to make a change in communities.
The poet uses unifying language in these lines, including all readers in her estimation of what the future can look like. The world, and all its nations, she says, will be stronger if all people can stand together. The poet knows how important it is to care for one another for generations to come.
The poet uses a generalized female character, referred to only as “her,” in the next few lines. She alludes to the lives, struggles, and success of all women when she speaks about “her strength, her story, and her spirit.” She inspires those around her to “speak up” when they see/hear an injustice and stand strong with one another.
So let it be said that light will be shed
That makes women’s voices so vital.
In the final few lines of the poem, the poet delves into subject matter that is very common in her poetry. She uses light as a symbol of the future and the prospects of all humanity. She hopes that the future is led by people who are the “first” to stand up for one another and that women drive the narrative forward, ensuring that the future arrives whether the rest of the world wants it or not.
The poet uses a metaphor in these lines, comparing change and progress to the wind blowing. It blows forward, and it’s that forward motion/destination that’s important. The poet expresses her hope that women will maintain this forward motion and take other women with them.
The poet alludes to a phrase from the first lines of the poem, “speaking truth to power,” in the final lines with the phrase, “speaking the truth in this finest hour.” The poem ends with summarizing lines, stating that the power women have comes from their ability and willingness to uplift other women. It’s in this way that female voices will become even more powerful, the poet alludes.
The poet uses a motivational and passionate tone in this poem. Throughout the fifty-eight lines, she repeats rousing examples of figurative language and demonstrates calls to action for all those reading.
The theme of this Amanda Gorman poem is the power of women and their potential to rise up while empowering others. Gorman repetitively reminds readers of how strong women are and how their strength comes from their willingness to empower those around them.
Amanda Gorman is famous for her reading of ‘The Hill We Climb’ at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. The widely-viewed clip of her reading her poem brought a new audience to her poetry.
This poem is about the power of women to overcome any obstacles set in front of them and to promote their own interests, along with the interests of their fellow women, as they succeed.
Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some other Amanda Gorman poems. For example:
- ‘The Miracle of Morning’ – is a powerful poem about hope and maintaining one’s strength when life is difficult.
- ‘Memorial’ – a thoughtful poem about the past and the role writing plays.
- ‘School’s Out’ – a poem inspired by COVID-19 and how young people experienced it.