Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The New Colossus

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
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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazurus
The New Colossus is a supremely confident poem. The technique is impeccable, with complete command of the Petrarchan sonnet form and its dramatic timing. Lazarus knows how to use rhetoric and archetype without overegging the already rich fare. The iambic pentameter flows with the steady dignity of a great ship. Many images are drawn from the storied Old World. "Tempest-tost" is a Shakespearean epithet. There are hints of Wordsworth's sonnet Composed upon Westminster Bridge and of Keats, and his Homeric " "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer" - realms of gold

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