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The New Colossus


A Young Poet Captures the Essence of Lady Liberty

Emma Lazarus, a native New Yorker, contributed one of the most well known pieces of art inspired by the Statue of Liberty and its optimistic message to the world's disenfranchised people. Her sonnet entitled "The New Colossus," written in 1883 for an auction to raise funds for the pedestal, was a tribute to the symbolism of Lady Liberty. In the past, many large monument statues were meant to deter enemies or to represent the strength and wealth of a nation. But this is not so for Lady Liberty:  

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!"

 - Emma Lazarus


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