The New Colossus
, Emma Lazarus's manuscript
Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New York, NY, US
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. In 1903, the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the lower level of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
1 History of the poem,
4 Other uses,
5 External links,
History of the poem:
This poem was written as a donation to an auction of art and literary works 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. 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.
"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.
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 since its unveiling in 1903.
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 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!"
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".
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".
An excerpt from 'The New Colossus' is painted as a mural in San Francisco, also depicting The Statue of Liberty.
There are many musical settings of the poem, including one by Irving Berlin for the 1949 Broadway musical Miss Liberty titled "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor" and by David Ludwig in 2002 called "The New Colossus". Ludwig's piece was performed at the 57th Presidential Inauguration in 2013 of Barack Obama during the private morning worship service.