A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 14, 2004
Give me your tired, your poor ("The New Colossus")
Emma Lazarus wrote "The New Colossus" poem in 1883. It was affixed to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903.

She did not coin the term "new Colossus." See the 1878 citation below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Colossus
The New Colossus is a poem that American poet Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) wrote in 1883 for the Statue of Liberty, New York.

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!"


The title of the sonnet, and the first two lines, refer to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The poem talks about the millions of immigrants that came to the United States, many of them through Ellis Island at the port of New York.

A plaque with the text of the poem was mounted in 1903 on the inner wall of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_Lazarus
Emma Lazarus was an American poet born 22 July 1849 in New York City. She is best known for writing the The New Colossus, a sonnet written on 2 November 1883 that in 1903 was engraved on a bronze tablet and put inside the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Emma Lazarus was the fourth of seven children of Esther and Moses Lazarus. She became very knowledgeable in many things, including American and European literature, and also in several languages, including German, French, and Italian. She was assisted in large part by her father, who helped her write poems in her younger years. Her writings aroused the attention of Ralph Waldo Emerson, at the time a prominent American poet and essayist, who corresponded with her up until his death in 1882.

Besides writing her own poems she also wrote adaptions of German and Italian poems, notably those of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine. Lazarus' interest in Jewish events was aroused after reading the George Eliot novel Daniel Deronda, and this was strengthened further by the Russian progrom in the early 1880s. This led Lazarus to write articles on the subject and to begin translating the works of Jewish poets into English.

She traveled twice to Europe, in 1883 and again in May 1885, after the death of her father that March. She returned to New York City seriously ill from her second trip in September 1887, and died two months later on 10 November, most likely from cancer.

10 September 1878, Oshkosh (WI) Daily Northwestern, pg. 2, col. 2:
FROM PARIS.

The Statue of "Liberty" - A Grand Gift of
France to the United States - French
Sculpture - A Trial of American Ploughs
Useful and Ornamental Employment of
Terra Cotta, Etc.

From Our Regular Correspondent.

Paris, Aug. 30. - The head of the new Colossus, "Liberty," which is in future to light all nations into the harbor of New York, has produced a profound impression on the visitor to the Exhibition. It is placed on the left hand side of the grounds of the Champ de Mars, looking towards the Seine.

6 May 1903, New York Times, pg. 9:
IN MEMORY OF EMMA LAZARUS.

Tablet on Liberty Island to the Poetess
Who Sang of the New Colossus.

The memory of Emma Lazarus, a writer of note in her day, has been revived by her friend, Miss Georgina Schuyler, by a graceful act. Yesterday a memorial bronze tablet was unveiled on Bedloe's, or Liberty Island, as it is now called, just inside the entrance to the pedestal of Bartholdi's gigantic statue of Liberty Enlightening the World.

The choice of this place rests on the interest which Emma Lazarus took in the Liberty Statue as a symbol for a land where the down-trodden and despised have found a chance to develop their own careers, an interest which found one expression in her verses on "The New Colossus." They were written in 1883 and are inscribed on the tablet Miss Schuyler has dedicated to her shade 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 Exiled. 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!"


Emma Lazarus was the daughter of the late Moses Lazarus and came of one of the old Jewish families of New York, well-known in the best society of the city. She died in 1887.


Posted by Barry Popik
Names/Phrases • (0) Comments • Tuesday, December 14, 2004 • Permalink