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November 2,1883 after two visits to see refugees being held and processed
on Ward's Island in New York's East River, Emma Lazarus, a thirty-four
year old poet
from Manhattan, composed a sonnet for the dedication of the Statue of
In those few, elegant lines she spoke for the soul of a nation.
May we always remember her words.
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!"