Friday, August 4, 2017

"The New Colossus", Poetry and Americana

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!"


This poem was written to raise money for the erection of the Statue of Liberty.  It predates the statue being placed on Liberty Island.

Maybe I am atypical, but I was told throughout my primary education that this simple poem, along with many other small speeches (Gettysburg Address), oaths (Pledge of Allegiance), and statements of purpose (Preamble to the Constitution) represent important aspects of Americana and our own internalized mythology (those exact words were not used, I was in elementary school).

I don't know what the general public feels about such things.  I do know that I dislike the casual dismissal of this bit of writing.

What do you think?

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