"I Lift My Lamp Beside The Golden Door"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In 1883 the Statue of Liberty Pedestal Fund was trying to raise enough money to construct a pedestal on which to erect the Statue which had been given this country by France. Emma Lazarus was one of the people asked to make a literary contribution to be auctioned off to help raise funds for the erection of the pedestal. At the auction her now-famous contribution, "The New Colossus," brought $1,500. It was not until 1903, however, that the sonnet was inscribed on a bronze plaque and placed inside the base of the Statue. It was later moved to the main entrance. In the sonnet the poet alludes to the Colossus of Apollo, the gigantic statue that in the second century B.C. was set in the harbor of Rhodes. Unlike the Greek giant "With conquering limbs, "the "mighty woman with a torch" holds a flame of welcome. Her name is "Mother of Exiles." The poem ends with the goddess' message:

"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!"