Archive for the 'Emma Lazarus' Category

The Miracle of Lazarus

 by edward moran
Emma Lazarus was America’s first great Jewish poet. Almost every American (and not only) has three lines of her poetry ingrained in their psyche, lines as well-known as the Constitution itself or the Ten Commandments. “Give me your tired, your poor…”, then fill in the blank. Just about anyone who has a high-school diploma knows that the next line welcomes Europe’s desperate “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” But her verse does not stop there. John Hollander has recently edited a new volume of Lazarus’ poetry for the Library of America. Schocken Books has published Esther Schor’s biography of Lazarus in its Jewish Encounters series. Below is the original sonnet that is engraved in bronze at the foot of the Statue of Liberty.

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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Contrasting Views

"Literalism is a feature of boorish translators." Cicero "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase." Nabokov

The Faerie Queene

"John Ashbery said reading the Faerie Queene was like reading an endless beautiful comic strip." Kenneth Koch

Sigmund Freud

"Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."

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