What literary devices are used in “The Hill We Climb”?

Literary devices in “The Hill We Climb” include metaphor, alliteration, allusion, and anaphora.

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A literary device employed in “The Hill We Climb” is enjambment. This is a common feature in poetry, where a sentence or a phrase runs over from one line to the next.

In Gorman's poem, some good examples of enjambment can be observed in the following lines:

Where a skinny Black girl

descended from slaves and raised by a single mother

can dream of becoming president

only to find herself reciting for one.

In this particular segment of the poem, the poet wants to say a number of things about herself: that she's a “skinny Black girl,” that she's a descendant of slaves who's been raised by a single mother, and that she's someone who can dream of becoming president one day. Enjambment is a particularly effective literary device in this case, as it enables the poet to express the various aspects of who and what she is: her ethnicity, her history, her family background, and her aspirations for the future.

These lines are enjambed rather than end-stopped because they represent the uninterrupted flow between the poet's past, present, and future. All the various facets of the poet's identity join together to form a seamless whole. Enjambment is therefore entirely appropriate here as there is no natural stopping point: past, present, and future cannot be separated as they come together in the life of the poet and the poem she has written to tell us about it.

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Metaphors and Symbolism.

Early in the poem, the poet says "the dawn is ours." This is a metaphor because the American people of course do not actually own the dawn, but the metaphor implies that they have a chance to shape a new beginning. Dawn is often used in literature as a symbol to represent new hopes and new beginnings, and the poet uses it here to suggest that America can forge a new beginning for itself after a period of prolonged conflict and division. The poet is saying that it is time for a fresh start for America, meaning that old divisions should be forgotten and previous enemies forgiven.

Later in the poem, the poet declares that "victory won't lie in the blade. / But in all the bridges we've made." These bridges are metaphorical and refer to the connections between people that the poet believes are integral to a united, prosperous America. The poet also uses a rhyming couplet here to emphasize the image and the meaning behind it.


The poet states that "history has its eyes on us." This is an example of personification. The poet personifies history to emphasize to the American people the historical importance of the choices they make. History here is personified as perhaps a watchful parent or authority figure, and in this way the poet hopes to make the audience feel a strong sense of obligation to act in a way that history will approve of.

Repetition and Collective Pronouns.

The main message of the poem is that Americans of all colors, faiths, and political opinions should come together and unite, to work as one for their country. To emphasize the importance of this unity, the poet repeats collective pronouns like "we" and "our." She also repeats throughout the poem the phrase, "We will rise," and by repeating this phrase she emphasizes the determination and optimism contained within it.

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Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb” employs metaphor extensively, beginning with the title. A metaphor is a direct comparison of unlike things for effect. Throughout the poem, the speaker refers to multiple difficulties that contemporary Americans are facing. Collectively, these problems are identified as a metaphorical hill. Other metaphors occur in the first few lines. The changes that the speaker anticipates will occur as “day comes,” and encouraging signs are equated with light.

Another device that Gorman uses frequently is alliteration, which the repetition of initial consonant sounds. The initial B is repeated in “We've braved the belly of the beast.” The hard C sound appears in these lines:

We are striving to forge a union with purpose,

to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and

conditions of man.

These lines also exemplify her use of allusion through the reference to other literary texts, historical events, or real or fictional figures. In her work, Gorman alludes to Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech. His lines refer to his children being judged not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Gorman also alludes to poet Maya Angelou’s work “Still I Rise.” Gorman includes a sequence of lines that begin “we will rise.” These lines also use anaphora, a type of repetition in which the same words are repeated at the beginning of lines. In that same speech, Dr. King employed this device in the extensive repetition of “I have a dream.” Gorman has a four-line sequence which presents US geographical diversity.

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west.

We will rise from the windswept northeast,

where our forefathers first realized revolution.

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.

We will rise from the sunbaked south.

She follows this with a slight variation, “We will rebuild,” in a line that also includes alliteration with R in “rebuild, reconcile and recover.”

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