Monday, July 16, 2007

Mother of Exiles

All of us have seen the image of the great Statue of Liberty. Some of you have probably taken the ferry ride out to Bedloe's Island and actually seen her up close. A very different perspective is to imagine the view of the statue that our family members might have had as their ship pulled into New York harbor after the long trip across the Atlantic, or as they stood at Ellis Island awaiting clearance to enter their new country.

Picturing the way the statue might have looked to these new immigrants, entering a promising yet still unknown world, it is meaningful to read Emma Lazarus' famous poem, The New Colossus. First published in 1883 as part of a collection of poems written to raise money for the construction of the pedestal, it can now be read over the Statue of Liberty's main entrance. Here is the beautiful poem in its entirety:
The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus, New York City,

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

For more from Lisa, visit

Related Posts with Thumbnails