Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus”

Emma Lazarus' famous poem is inexorably linked with the Statue of Liberty. Learn the true story of how. Through images, film, and audio clips we explore its relevance to the continuing dialogue about immigration.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore…” While many people recognize this oft-quoted stanza they may not know its fascinating backstory and its many uses and abuses. “The New Colossus,” the sonnet by the Jewish American poet Emma Lazarus was written in 1883 to raise funds for the construction of a pedestal for “Liberty Enlightening the World”.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore…” While many people recognize this oft-quoted stanza they may not know its fascinating backstory and its many uses and abuses. “The New Colossus,” the sonnet by the Jewish American poet Emma Lazarus was written in 1883 to raise funds for the construction of a pedestal for “Liberty Enlightening the World”.

New Colossus Manuscript
Statute of Liberty

As issues of refugees and immigration continue to dominate the news, the poem’s relevance is greater than ever. Join us for a lively, informative, and interactive discussion of the pioneering female poet, her sonnet and its history, legacy, and cultural influence.