Watch CBS News

The Republic Rising: A tribute to the Empire State Building

Pianist and poet's tribute to Empire State Building
Jon Batiste and youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman pay tribute to Empire State Building 04:53

For nearly 90 years, the Empire State Building has not only defined the skyline of New York, but it has also stood as a symbol of American ingenuity and determination. In honor of the soaring tower's creators, the nation's first Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, headed to the observation deck with pianist and "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" musical director Jon Batiste for the performance of "The Republic Rising," an original composition created for "CBS This Morning."

Jon Batiste with Amanda Gorman Rebecca Castagna/CBS News

"The Republic Rising"

Steel spears through vapor, 

The tower tapered like a child's pencil.

This, a peak of progress and potential,

Built when the Big Apple had to grapple

With the Great Depression.

But in that time of dire stakes,

This Empire State still desired 

To scrape the sky.

And when the cloud-high building glows, 

It shows, in all its concrete and steel,

That a reeling country can still heal,

Can seek an ideal of opportunity

And unbroken hope, all the possibilities

That this pen of a tower wrote here.

Here, into the screams of subway,

Here, where there's dreams of someday,

Here, the Melting Pot,

Where geniuses jive to jazz 

And hustle nonstop to hip hop,

On chalked up street blocks we bebop,

We wild, we want, we

Stunt, we strive, we

Hustle, we hungry, 

We run free, here we come, we

One country, we ain't done see,

We've begun the 

Task of building a

Tower together,

Not stacked with steel or stone, 

But heart and home.

We hone a nation that's a myriad, like Manhattan:

On each block you find the black, the Latin,

The indigenous, the religious,

Lovers beyond labels, the disabled community,

Foreigners and sojourners,

On each corner of this land,

In this cacophony of a country,

We reach down long hands,

That we all might stand

Together, where we belong.

Our roar rings strong,

Like King Kong, we mount a tower

And pound our chest. Blessed with power,

We do not rest.

We do not weaken.

We are the skyscraper. 

We are the beacon,

Our spines steel-spire straight.

In times of higher, dire stakes,

Let this fire wake us to the faith before our eyes:

That a republic doesn't require hate to rise.

Globe, grant us your tired, your aching,

And tomorrow we'll be shaking the skies.

We cannot fail. So we will not fall. 

We are moved by the call of this 

Colossus of a tall steeple.

It proves that when

Only include the few,

You only injure all people.

But when we retire our gates,

We build up anew these entire United States

Into an empire to inspire the great.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.