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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This sonnet is on a plaque at the base of the statue of liberty. It is, first and foremost, a great poem. It is also as great a statement of American intent as the Declaration of Independence. America is a nation of immigrants. It is a place people can come to to make a new life. It is a land full of hope for a better future.
Or used to be at any rate. Today, Trump spokesman Stephen Miller (is he the interim Scaramucci? If so, sure screwed up fast, didn’t he?) was talking about immigration. When a reporter quoted this poem, he said something along the lines of “Eh, it’s just a poem. Doesn’t really have anything to do with the statue.”
It has everything to do with the statue, and the statue has everything to do with what America was supposed to be about. Stephen Miller doesn’t understand poetry. And he doesn’t understand America.