Emma Lazarus (1849-1887), although a prolific writer for such a short life of 38 years, is best known for her sonnet, “The New Colossus,” some lines of which are inscribed on a bronze plaque which was installed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903. While this poem wasn’t widely known in her lifetime, she was a recognized literary figure who was acquainted with many literary and political figures of the day. Ironically, “The New Colossus” later became so famous that it overshadowed her legacy as a whole. Read more about Emma Lazarus here.
The New Colossus
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!’