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Using text analysis to dive deeper into Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem

For many, Amanda Gorman was the highlight of yesterday’s United States Presidential Inauguration – and not just because of her bright yellow jacket.

The 22-year-old recited her moving poem “The Hill We Climb,” alluding to the country’s past while presenting a hopeful future. These days, it is rare for a poem to excite the general public as Gorman’s has. To understand why “The Hill We Climb” resonated with so many American people, we analyzed the text using Relative Insight.

Relative Insight is a comparison-based text analysis platform – pinpointing the topics, words, phrases, grammar and emotion more likely to be seen in a particular data set. I uploaded “The Hill We Climb” to Relative Insight, where I compared the text against our database of standard English to see what makes Gorman’s writing so unique. Here’s what we found:

Plural Pronouns

Gorman spoke in a collective voice, using words like we, us and our. This use of plural pronouns coveys a message of shared experience. Although she is the author, the story Gorman presents is not entirely her own – it is one of millions.


We saw the use of words implying linear order throughout Gorman’s work. She employed words such as first, then and next to tell the story of the country’s past as well as its future. This is an effective storytelling technique that helps to construct a narrative of progress and evolution over time.

Still Recovering

In her references to the past, Gorman often painted a picture of a damaged country and people. She referenced harm and catastrophe to show the once broken and battered state of the United States.

Gorman used emotive language to further illustrate this image of a damaged past. We saw emotions like sadness, fear and bravery through words including grieved, hurt and afraid.

Definitive Language

Gorman often employed definitive language to detail the country’s path forward. Decisive words like will, shall and must suggest that there is no other option – and that a more perfect union does indeed await.

The Future

Looking towards the future, Gorman insists on Americans deeply rooted ambition for success and change, using words such as striving to do so. She acknowledges what has already been achieved through the election of President Joe Biden, but that there is still much to accomplish.

The past weeks have showcased the power of language in compelling people to take action – from Trump’s “battle cry” and the violence of January 6th to the hope and unity of January 20th. Politicians are often criticised for being all talk and no substance, but as citizens look to their leaders in times of trouble, it is clear that their words are more important than ever.