Figures of speech in Amanda's Gorman's 2021 inauguration day poem include the following:
Where can we find light in this never-ending shade.
Metaphors are comparisons between two unlike things. Here "shade" is a metaphor for the bad experiences that the country has recently undergone, such as COVID-19 and the attack on the Capitol.
We've braved the belly of the beast.
This line includes two figures of speech. It uses allusion, which is reference to another work of literature. "Belly of the beast" refers to the time of fear and darkness the biblical Jonah experienced when he was swallowed by a whale. Alliteration occurs when words beginning with the same consonant are placed together. This line includes three b sounds in braved, belly, and beast.
Just is isn't always just-ice.
This line puns on the way "just is" and "justice" sound alike but can mean different things. "Just is" can mean accepting the status quo, even if it is unfair, while justice is fairness.
Somehow we do it.
Anaphora is having consecutive lines in a poem begin with the same word or words. Gorman uses this literary technique frequently as the poem progresses, rising to a crescendo near the end. Here, early on, she repeats "somehow" twice at the beginning of two consecutive lines.
"A skinny Black girl" is an example of visual imagery, something we can see in our mind's eyes.
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
This is an example of both punning and assonance. Arms means both weapons and the arms on our body: Gorman is playing on the two meanings of this word. Assonance occurs when words beginning with the same vowel are placed close together. Here we find repeated a sounds.
We will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision.
This is an example of end rhyme.
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy.
This is another example of both alliteration and end rhyme.
Finally, "gold-limbed hills" shows visual imagery.