Thursday, April 05, 2012

Poetry Month-A Poem with a Purpose

from the Jewish Women's Archive

Emma Lazarus wrote The New Colossus to raise money for the pedestal to the Statue of Liberty that was being made by Frédéric Bartholdi in France and given by the French government as a gift of friendship for the United States. Many well-known writers including Mark Twain and Walt Whitman were asked to write something for the fundraising efforts. Emma Lazarus was asked to write a poem. Emma's poem was the only one read at the celebration in 1883. The pedestal was built and the statue erected in 1886. Twenty years later, her friend Georgina Schuyler arranged to have the poem engraved on a plaque and placed inside the pedestal's entryway.

A picture book about Emma Lazarus and the writing of The New Colossus:

Emma Lazarus: Poet of Exiles
, an exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Excellent website has information about Emma as well as a very cool interactive version of The New Colossus and a downloadable walking tour app for iphone and android visiting 19 historic sites in New York City that helped shape Lazarus’ legacy, and a teacher's page.

Statue of Liberty National Monument, Website of the National Park Service. If you're inspired to visit, be aware that the interior of the statue is closed for renovations although Liberty Island is still open.

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor (the Statue of Liberty Song): The New Colossus set to music by Mrs. Barbara Silberg and sung and read by children from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences website.

And some New England connections: Emma corresponded with Ralph Waldo Emerson and was a friend of Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, Nathaniel and Sophia's daughter. Rose was inspired by Emma to found the Dominan Sisters of Hawthorne which cares for those suffering from terminal cancer and have no financial resources.

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