The New Colossus
The New Colossus was written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, referring to the Statue of Liberty, given by the people of France to the people of the United States on the hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. A bronze cast of the poem was put in the statue’s base in 1903. It is in the form of a Petrarchan sonnet.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, (1)
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!”
- The Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of the sun god, Helios, was erected in 280 BCE and collapsed in an earthquake in 226 BCE. It was the tallest statue in the ancient world.
A Newer Colossus
Today, given the new immigration policies of the Trump Administration, the poem of Emma Lazarus is in need of reworking to reflect reality.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
Or she who welcomed entrants to our land,
Now, at our southern border, ICE shall stand,
Unlike the woman with the torch, whose flame,
A light of welcoming, once earned the name,
Mother of Exiles. Now her beacon hand,
Not welcoming, broadcasts this harsh command,
“We’re closed; this land that two wide oceans frame.”
“You ancient lands of colored folks,” cries she
With silent lips, “Keep all your tired, your poor,
Your suffering masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched of your deserts, cities, shore.
Don’t send these homeless, terrorized to me.”
For Trump has, without mercy, slammed the door.
Stephen Baird, July,2018