Based on The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus
I don’t claim to be a poet. The last time I studied poetry was probably in high school. That was a while ago. Recently, I was watching a new show (The OA), which featured a scene at the Statue of Liberty. Being from the west coast, I’ve never witnessed the statue in person, and I didn’t know anything about the poem that is featured at the exhibit. But as I listened to the words while watching the show, I felt my chest tightening in sadness and anger. The words really struck a chord with me. Strangely, the following day I saw quite a few news reports referencing the poem and describing feelings I’d become familiar with. With the recent moves the leadership has taken in this country, I felt compelled to amend the original poem by Emma Lazarus. The original words are in italic, my changes are bolded.
I keep telling myself that I will fight the urge to be public with my opinions when it comes to politics. But I feel like we’re at a point where it’s not about politics anymore. It’s about humanity. This is my way to work through it, I guess.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
On an island stands a reticent woman refusing to be tamed,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
With a sacred womb policed by man;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
Here across the bay our privileged towers rise above the sand,
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
The false guide beckons forth, her fame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Is the deception set shining, and her new name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Mother of Exile. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
Glows judgement and condemnation of the ways of your homeland;
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
Once a land of poor colonists, now lead by men of wealth who proclaim:
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
Change your idols, your customs, your language; all we decree.
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
With silent lips she warns. “Here there are no longer dreams of grandeur,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
Give me your defenseless who will relinquish civil liberties.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
The malleable nameless that don’t wish to soar.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
Send the voiceless, the weak, to do cheap labor and become deportees,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I lift my lamp to warn this land is free no more.”