Poem for July: The New Colossus

The New Colossus
Emma Lazarus

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!”

I had a passing “thing” for the Statue of Liberty in the 1980’s. It coincided with Lady Liberty’s one-hundredth anniversary. Because of my fascination, I liked this poem, though, like most people, I was very familiar with the last five lines and not well acquainted with the beginning.

I chose this poem because it is short (my first sonnet!) and I got started late this month, due to my vacation. It is also July, which lends itself to patriotic poems.

In memorizing this poem, I really fell in love with it. In it’s brief lines it really encompasses what I love about the United State of America. In fact, when I was memorizing it, I sometimes had to not think too deeply about the meaning of the poem because if I did, I would choke up.

Now that this poem is lodged in my brain, I love it even more. On the page it is jerky and choppy. When I speak it, the whole thing just flows.

Trivia bonus: the “twin harbors” Lazarus refers to are Brooklyn and Manhattan.

One thought on “Poem for July: The New Colossus”

  1. WOW!!! I am so impressed with this poem and your commentary about it! I remember there was a women of steel poster that I loved showing Lady Liberty kicking a** with a big kick – very sweet… I went looking and came up with a few things I didn't care to see. Maybe it wasn't called women of steel…hmmm…-S

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