The New Colossus

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The New Colossus
New Colossus manuscript Lazarus.jpg
Emma Lazarus's manuscript
Created 1883
Location Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New York City, New York, U.S.[1]
Author(s) Emma Lazarus
Purpose Sonnet was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the monument in 1903

"The New Colossus" is a sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus (1849–87), written in 1883.[2] In 1903, the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the lower level of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

History of the poem[edit]

This poem was written as a donation to an auction of art and literary works[3] conducted by the "Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty" to raise money for the pedestal's construction.[4] Lazarus's contribution was solicited by fundraiser William Maxwell Evarts. Initially she refused but Constance Cary Harrison convinced her that the statue would be of great significance to immigrants sailing into the harbor.[5]

"The New Colossus" was the only entry read at the exhibit's opening, but was forgotten and played no role at the opening of the statue in 1886. In 1901, Lazarus's friend Georgina Schuyler began an effort to memorialize Lazarus and her poem, which succeeded in 1903 when a plaque bearing the text of the poem was mounted on the inner wall of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.[4]

The line "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" has read "Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" on the plaque hanging inside the Statue of Liberty[6] since its unveiling in 1903.

The original manuscript is held by the American Jewish Historical Society.[7]

Contents[edit]

The title of the poem and the first two lines refer to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The poem talks about the millions of immigrants who came to the United States (many of them through Ellis Island at the port of New York).

The "air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame" refers to New York City and Brooklyn, not yet consolidated into one unit in 1898.

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!"

Influence[edit]

Bronze plaque inside the Statue of Liberty

John T. Cunningham wrote that "The Statue of Liberty was not conceived and sculpted as a symbol of immigration, but it quickly became so as immigrant ships passed under the statue. However, it was Lazarus's poem that permanently stamped on Miss Liberty the role of unofficial greeter of incoming immigrants".[8]

Paul Auster wrote that "Bartholdi's gigantic effigy was originally intended as a monument to the principles of international republicanism, but 'The New Colossus' reinvented the statue's purpose, turning Liberty into a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world".[9]

Songs[edit]

The 2014 Millennial Choirs & Orchestra album To Be American contains a track called "The New Colossus." This song turned the poem into lyrics set to music composed by Brett Stewart and his brother Brandon Stewart, the founders of the choir and orchestra. The song features a soloist and the choir.

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, and her name
Mother of Exiles. Exiles.

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
Give me your tired, your poor, your tired, 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,
Give me your tired, your poor, your tired, poor.

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. X3

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
Give me your tired, your poor, your tired, poor.

I lift my lamp up.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Statue of Liberty National Monument". US: National Park Service. 2007-12-31. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  2. ^ Lazarus, Emma, The New Colossus, Liberty State Park 
  3. ^ Sutherland, Cara A (2003), The Statue of Liberty: The Museum of the City of New York, Barnes & Noble, p. 77, ISBN 0-7607-3890-4, "auction of art and literary work" ; Mark Twain also contributed.
  4. ^ a b Young, Bette Roth (1997), Emma Lazarus in Her World: Life and Letters, The Jewish Publication Society, p. 3, ISBN 0-8276-0618-4, "…fell into obscurity. At the unveiling of the statue […] both Emma and her sonnet were absent […] Georgina Schuyler set in motion a successful attempt to memorialize her friend by placing the poem, inscribed on a bronze tablet, inside the pedestal…" .
  5. ^ Felder, Deborah G; Rosen, Diana L (2003), Fifty Jewish Women Who Changed the World, Citadel, p. 45, ISBN 0-8065-2443-X, "…William Maxwell Evert [sic; presumably a misspelling of "William Maxwell Evarts] asked […] Lazarus[…] to compose original works […] who […] refused […] until […] Constance Cary Harrison[…] suggested that she consider what the statue would mean to the thousand of immigrants who would see it as they sailed into New York…" .
  6. ^ Shapiro, Gary (2006-12-08). "Misprint is spied in Lazarus poem at Liberty island". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  7. ^ Roberts, Sam (2011), "How a Sonnet Made a Statue the ‘Mother of Exiles’", New York Times, retrieved 2013-11-21 
  8. ^ Cunningham, John T (2003), Ellis Island: Immigration's Shining Center, Arcadia Publishing, pp. 46–48, ISBN 0-7385-2428-X .
  9. ^ Auster, Paul (2005), "NYC = USA", Collected Prose: Autobiographical Writings, True Stories, Critical Essays, Prefaces, and Collaborations with Artists, Picador, p. 508, ISBN 0-312-42468-X .

External links[edit]