Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Newer Colossus

This is one of those gems that we should re-read often to help us keep our humanity. I've had a copy of it tacked to the bulletin board near my desk for years.

The New Colossus
by Emma Lazarus, New York City, 1883

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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The New Colossus was written as a contribution to an art portfolio, the aim of which was to raise money for the construction of the Statue of Liberty's pedestal. A plaque with the text of this poem was mounted in 1903 on the inner wall of the pedestal.

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