Friday, April 12, 2019

Poetry Friday: The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

"The New Colossus" was one of the first sonnets I learned by heart growing up and I've been thinking a lot about it lately, especially those last few lines. Interestingly, the poem was written before the Statue of Liberty was completed, yet with those last lines, Emma Lazarus really managed to define what America has always stood for. After all, unless you are Native American, we all are or descend from immigrants and refugees.

"The New Colossus" was written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus and donated to an auction being held to raise money to complete the pedestal upon with the Statue of Liberty stands. France were responsible for the statue, but the pedestal was this country's responsibility. Lacking funds to build it, an exhibition and auction was organized in December 1883 by the Art Loan Fund Exhibition at the New York's Academy of Design.
Source: The New Colossus by Susan Johnson, Museum of the City of New York
Then, in 1903, the sonnet was engraved on a brass plaque and hung inside the completed pedestal. Sadly, Emma Lazarus never got to see this great honor. She passed away in 1887 at age 38, from Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

The National Park Service offers a downloadable Lesson Plan for interpreting the symbolic meaning of Statue of Liberty in relation to Emma Lazarus and "The New Colossus" HERE

Poetry Friday is a weekly blogging event in which poets, writers, readers, and lovers of poetry share blog posts about poetry. Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Irene at Live Your Poem


  1. Thanks for this fascinating history lesson delivered through a poem!

  2. I love this, Alex and it's great to see you hear on Poetry Friday. My students and I visited the beautiful statue on a trip to NYC one year and were quiet and inspired seeing this. Thank you

  3. A shame that Emma passed away so young. Her work lives on, though. Thanks for this post!


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