Guest Author - Megan Romer
The famous poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty is officially titled "The New Colossus." It was written by poet Emma Lazarus in 1883 as a donation to an auction which was intended to raise money for the pedestal which the Statue of Liberty stands on.
Many people think that the poem is inscribed on the tablet which the Statue of Liberty is holding in her arm, but it's actually written on a tablet which greets visitors who enter the pedestal. The tablet which the Statue of Liberty is holding says "July IV, MDCCLXXVI" - the Roman numerals for the day the Declaration of Independence was signed.
The words of "The New Colossus" are based in Greek myth, and refer to the Colossus, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. They create an image of the Statue of Liberty being a modern version of this ancient statue of greeting, and add an element of kindness and goodness toward immigrants and those who are seeking freedom and liberty.
"The New Colossus" is a sonnet, with a rhyme scheme of an Italian sonnet (as opposed to a Shakespearean sonnet) and it is written in iambic pentameter.
The engraving of "The New Colossus" inside the Statue of Liberty contains a typographic error - the line "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" is missing the first comma, which actually changes the meaning somewhat! Though that error was recognized shortly after the plaque was displayed, it has never been fixed.
The text of "The New Colossus" is as follows:
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!�