Not many people knew who Amanda Gorman was until she stepped on the stage at the Presidential Inauguration this January, but once they did, she was hard to forget. Her voice is as strong as her morals, and the power she writes with hits straight to our hearts. 

At 23 years old, she is the youngest inaugural poet we’ve ever seen, and her work did not start nor end there. The budding solutionist has done pieces for the New York Times, and in 2018 she emerged with “Earthrise”, a poem about how we need to protect our planet for future generations to come.

“It was our world’s first glance at itself

Our first chance to see a shared reality,

A declared stance and a commonality;

A glimpse into our planet’s mirror,

And as threats drew nearer,

Or own urgency became clearer,

As we realize that we hold nothing dearer

Than this floating body we all call home.”

The piece starts off with Apollo 8, and how they saw our planet as they flew towards the moon. She uses smooth phrasing to express how we all share this earth. We’re in it together, for better or worse. As the lyrics continue, we’re taken through the reality of what it all means, and that this world is a part of our lives that we just can’t let go.

“We’ve known

That we’re caught in the throes

Of climactic changes some say

Will just go away,

While some simply pray

To survive another day;

For it is the obscure, the oppressed, the poor,

Who when the disaster

Is declared done,

Still suffer more than anyone”

This next section exposes parts of our society. Historically there have been numerous groups, whether due to income, ethnicity, or a slew of other reasons they have been mistreated, and their voice silenced. Those that express concern and call for action are sometimes buried under the louder waves of doubt and inactivity, and when all is said and done, the people that will be affected the most are the very same that humanity has pushed down time and time again. She calls attention to this fact, with the reminder that we all are inhabitants of the same land fresh in our minds, and the words plead with us to change.

“You don’t need to be a politician

To make it your mission to conserve, to protect,

To preserve that one and only home

That is ours,

To use your unique power

To give next generations the planet they deserve.”

We often think that individuals hold no power, that we must leave the decisions and the actions to those that hold office. But we don’t just have power, we as people ARE power. We are the ones who give them these seats, so we can give ourselves the strength to act. We cannot keep pushing the problem on to those that come after us, because eventually there will be no one to pass it to. We know what we’re doing wrong, and we know how to stop it. So why don’t we?

“There is no rehearsal. The time is

Now

Now

Now,

Because the reversal of harm,

And protection of a future so universal

Should be anything but controversial.

So earth, pale blue dot

We will fail you not.”

Our combined wish for a better planet should have nothing to do with the money it will take, or the time it requires. It should be separate from ulterior motives, free of all but the want to save our home. The fate of our descendants and our own are intertwined, and it is time to see that the biggest threat is upon us. Now.

“Visualize that all of us leaders in this room

And outside of these walls or in the halls, all

Of us changemakers are in a spacecraft,

Floating like a silver raft

In space, and we see the face of our planet anew.

We relish the view;

We witness its round green and brilliant blue,

Which inspires us to ask deeply, wholly:

What can we do?”

This part of the poem is one that I resonate with deeply. I often think to myself what the world would look like today, untouched by humans. What the benefits would be with the phasing out of harmful greenhouse gases, toxic chemicals, and ill-advised practices. The world still has beauty, but cracks exist on the picture frame. Fingerprints smudge the view. Even now, the nail threatens to pull free from the wall. If we aren’t careful, it’ll all come crashing down to the floor.

Poet Amanda Gorman Will Speak At Biden's Inauguration : Biden Transition Updates : NPR

It’s time to make sure that doesn’t happen. We have the ability to change this world for the better, and prolong the life of the younger generations. We have the responsibility “To keep rising up for an earth more than worth fighting for”.