Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty: In 1883, Emma Lazarus, deeply moved by an influx of immigrants from eastern Europe, wrote a sonnet that gave a voice to the Statue of Liberty.
Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
You’re likely very familiar with the sonnet inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…
But do you know what inspired the author to write these enduring words?
The book Emma’s Poem tells the story of how Emma Lazarus, a late 19th-century writer and daughter of a wealthy Jewish family in New York City, became aware of the suffering of immigrants in her city and set out to help them.
Her powerful poem raised awareness about an issue and changed the Statue of Liberty from a symbol of friendship with France to a beacon of hope for immigrants arriving in New York Harbor.
Recommended Age: 4+
The story itself includes a few lines from her poem, The New Colossus, but be sure to read the entire poem included in the back of the book. Then, look up the ancient Colossus of Rhodes, which is referenced in the poem, and consider how this “new Colossus” differs from the ancient one!