Lady Liberty, the Unburnt
It’s worth re-reading the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus” that was set at the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1903 (and which was moved indoors in 1986). Here are a few things I noticed:
- Lazarus names Lady Liberty “Mother of Exiles.” It makes one comparison unavoidable.
- She rejects the “storied pomp” of “ancient” Europe and antiquity for the humbleness of the New World. #NeverPomp
- “From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome.” Nice one.
- Some say the “twin cities” in the poem are New York and Jersey City—and the statue does basically sit between them—but I assumed she meant New York and Brooklyn, which I love thinking of as twin cities. Remember, NYC wasn’t five boroughs until 1898. The Guardian agrees with me, but it’s not entirely clear.
- Though White House advisor and known race-troll Stephen Miller derided the poem today for being added years after the statue’s construction, the poem was in fact written in 1883, to help raise money for the statue’s pedestal. The poem is conjoined with the statue from its earliest days in the United States. It is not poetry to say that the poem helped to build the statue.
- One of the country’s best known and most beloved poems was written as a fundraiser. Take that to SXSW, why don’t you?
- Emma Lazarus? Jewish. Race-troll Stephen Miller? Jewish. And me too. #Immigrants