Happy Independence Day, America!

To celebrate, this poem by Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus,” is apropos for our times. Written in 1883, Lazarus was determined to help raise funds for the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands. Today, her poem is inscribed on that pedestal.

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!”

Learn more about Emma Lazarus in these two exceptional books, Emma’s Poem by Linda Glaser and Claire A. Nivola (for early elementary readers), and The Story of Emma Lazarus: Liberty’s Voice: A Biography of One of the Great Poets in American History by Erica Silverman and Stacey Schuett (for later elementary readers).

Enjoy this NPR article on Emma Lazarus.

Emma Lazarus

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