Emma Lazarus: Jewish experience, golden words

Posted on 08 January 2020 by admin

It was first named “Liberty Enlightening the World,” a gift of friendship, celebrating the successful struggles for independence achieved by the United States and its alliance with France.
We commonly refer to her as the Statue of Liberty.
The French were to supply the Lady of Liberty Statue as a gift of friendship, while the Americans were to supply her base, the pedestal, at a cost of $250,000.
One of the many ways that money was to be raised to help pay for the pedestal was the donation of works of art, including new poetry by invited poets, such as Emma Lazarus.
Emma was one of a number of grandchildren of a wealthy Jewish merchant with original ties to Portugal and the American colonies before the American Revolution.
Emma Lazarus, in her early writings while still in her teens, was recognized and encouraged by the poet William Cullen Bryant and the daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, who became a close friend.
She worked hard at her craft, poetry, and had gained professional recognition by the time the Statue of Liberty pedestal money-raiser had been announced.
Originally written in 1883, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus:
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!”
Recently at a news conference, discussing proposed immigration policy changes, one of President Trump’s immigration administrators Ken Cuccinelli, off-handedly altered part of this famous poem by Emma Lazarus, his view negating the beautiful welcome in Lazarus’ words.
Here are the two views of whom the United States welcomes into their country as immigrants.
The traditional way, embracing those who flee from poverty, war, and fear, seeking opportunities for a better life (E. Lazarus); or only those who are able to fend for themselves without any government assistance (K. Cuccinelli).
Emma Lazarus’ words are just as meaningful today, given the conditions and hardships facing those seeking hope and humanity in the United States.
On the other hand, there is little hope and humanity in Mr. Cuccinelli’s misreading of “your tired, your poor.”
If there is one part of Emma Lazarus’ poem that people remember the most, it is, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”
…And so may it remain.

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