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Lift a Lamp for Emma Lazarus

It’s the ‘The New Colossus’ poet’s birthday

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The Statue of Liberty in 1986 (with Nancy Reagan inside).(Wikipedia)

Happy birthday to Emma Lazarus, born July 22, 1849. She was a feminist, an activist, and, above all, an internationally renowned poet.

Most famous is “The New Colossus,” which is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. (Some people now incorporate the poem into Passover Seders.)

There are spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty from The Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan, where a new exhibit opens this October in commemoration of Lazarus’ contributions to the formation of the American character.

If you can’t get to New York City, a newly-launched panel exhibit (created by the American Library Association in conjunction with Nextbook Press) is traveling to libraries around the country through early 2012, And, of course, no matter where you are, you can learn more about Lazarus by reading Esther Schor’s biography, published by Nextbook Press.

Emma Lazarus [Nextbook Press]
‘I Lift My Lamp’ [Tablet Magazine]

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jacob arnon says:

My favorite Lazarus poem is this one:



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Thou two-faced year, Mother of Change and Fate,

Didst weep when Spain cast forth with flaming sword,

The children of the prophets of the Lord,

Prince, priest, and people, spurned by zealot hate.

Hounded from sea to sea, from state to state,

The West refused them, and the East abhorred.

No anchorage the known world could afford,

Close-locked was every port, barred every gate.

Then smiling, thou unveil’dst, O two-faced year,

A virgin world where doors of sunset part,

Saying, “Ho, all who weary, enter here!

There falls each ancient barrier that the art

Of race or creed or rank devised, to rear

Grim bulwarked hatred between heart and heart!”

She is a demanding poet which is probably why the “Colossus” is the only poem of hers that almost everyone knows.

Wonderful poem. Could be 1942 as well as 1492. I will make it a goal to read more of her poetry.


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Lift a Lamp for Emma Lazarus

It’s the ‘The New Colossus’ poet’s birthday

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