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16thstreet:

The New Collosus
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!”

American Jewish Historical Society here at the Center holds the handwritten original of Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus” (1883), which is the poem that graces the Statue of Liberty (installed on bronze plaque in 1903). The AJHS collections are also home to other poems by Lazarus in draft form, and Emma Lazarus is featured in the exhibition on New York City and the Jews now on view at the Center.

Want to learn more about the poem and its history? Read the New York Times blog entry: “How a Sonnet Made a Statue the ‘Mother of Exiles.’”

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