Friday, July 06, 2007

The New Colossus -- a Poetry Friday post

As a Jewish American, Emma Lazarus was particularly concerned with the plight of Jewish refugees who were entering the U.S. at the time in order to escape pogroms in Russia and eastern Europe; beginning in 1882, she began providing technical education to allow immigrants in New York City to become self-sufficient.

In 1883, Emma Lazarus wrote a sonnet that is literally etched into American history -- it's on a brass plaque affixed to the base of the Statue of Liberty.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

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