Aug 31, 2011

The Colossus, When it Was New

Statue of Liberty
Photo by Mark Heard
In October I'm looking forward to seeing the Statue of Liberty. Is there any other icon that better describes who we are as Americans? We are a country of immigrants. The original name was Liberty Enlightening the World.

She is made of copper and of course aged to the color we see here. If you'd like to see what she must have looked like new (I wanted to know how the characters in my novel would have seen her.) Look here.

None of my ancestors that I've discovered came through Ellis Island and most had never even been to New York to see the statue. But what it represents certainly applies to them.

Parts of the statue were on display in France as it was being built. (See photo on the right.)

Most of us know about the poem "The New Colossus." The title was a description of the staute. At the time the statue was new and certainly colossal.

We are familiar with the line, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

I thought I'd share the whole thing.

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, 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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus, an advocate for immigrants, died from cancer at the young age of 34. She never knew the impact her poem would have.

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