The Mother of Exiles

The Mother of Exiles

Abby Zimet

The Statue of Liberty turns 125 today. Its history is telling: Turns out it was initially viewed as a symbol of justice, freedom, the end of tyranny, and only later became an icon for immigrants, for the "force that had peopled the wilderness and made the country that emerged what it was.” That, thanks to Emma Lazarus' great sonnet for "your tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." To the 1%: Listen up.

The New Colossus

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!"


Emma Lazarus, 1883

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