The New Colossus

The New Colossus

by Emma Lazarus

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!”

Summary of The New Colossus

  • Popularity: A popular sonnet by Emma Lazarus, a famous American poet, “The New Colossus” is a wonderful composition comparing two memorable statues and their likely meanings. It was written in 1883 to raise funds for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. The real purpose, however, appears to spread the idea to the world that America is the land of immigrants. This is where the main popularity of the poem lies.
  • “The New Colossus” as a Representative of Freedom: Emma has presented the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of freedom and independence. When a person arrives in New York, America, the first thing he/she encounters is the Statue of Liberty holding a torch. The torch symbolizes hope, free life, sense of belonging and happiness. She also presents this statue in contrast to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Unlike the Statue of Liberty, the colossus was considered a relic of the past. However, she contrasts the Statue of Liberty with the male Colossus of Rhodes and calls it “The Mother of Exiles.” Emma believes that the statue cares, soothes and comforts the people like a mother. When people exiled from their native lands arrive in America, it offers them liberty and shelter.
  • Major Themes: The major themes of the poem include freedom, and a heartwarming welcome to immigrants in America regardless of their status and financial positions. The torch of the statue serves as a beacon and shows the path to those who leave their lands. It offers them immense opportunities to overcome adversity and breathe freely in a new land. It is due to these themes, the poem is embraced as a great composition. In fact, this statue symbolizes hope, strength, freedom, and
  • The careful glimpse of this analysis shows that the poet has skillfully projected his ideas using these literary devices. Their appropriate use has made this poem meditative and thoughtful for the reader.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “The New Colossus”

  • Simile: Simile is a device used to compare one object to another to help readers understand or to clarify the meanings using ‘as’ or ‘like’. There is one simile used in the first line, “Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame.” This line compares the Statue of Liberty with the Colossus of Rhodes to start to express that the statue was not built to seek fame.
  • Metaphor: Emma has used a metaphor in her poem in the fourth line, “Whose frame is the imprisoned lightning.” Here she compares the light of the torch with the power and light of the thunder lightning.
  • Imagery: The use of imagery makes the readers understand the writer’s feelings, emotions, and Emma has used images appealing to the sense of sight such as, “the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This vivid description of masses presents the crowd arriving in America.
  • Personification: Personification is to attribute human characteristics to lifeless objects. The poet has used personification in the ninth line, “Cries she with her silent lips.” The line means the statues it cries like a human being.
  • Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of the same consonant sounds in the same lines of poetry such as the use of /s/ in “Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand” and /w/ sound in “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame.”
  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /a/ in “Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand” and /i/ sound in “With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your”
  • Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds such as the sound of /r/ in “The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

The careful glimpse of this analysis shows that the poet has skillfully projected his ideas using these literary devices. The poet has also addressed the logic behind the placement of the Statue of Liberty under cover of these literary devices.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “The New Colossus”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  • Sonnet: A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem in which the same idea runs throughout the text. In this sonnet, Emma has used Petrarchan style with rhyme scheme AABBA, CDCDCD.
  • Meter: This sonnet follows iambic pentameter which means each verse contains five feet consisting of one stressed and one stressed syllable such as the first line “Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame” shows.
  • Stressed and Unstressed Syllable: The are two types of syllables used in this poem the first is unstressed and the second is stressed and this pattern continues till the end such as, Not like the brazen giant of Greek
  • Enjambment: It is defined as a thought or clause that does not come to an end at a line break rather moves over the next line. For example,

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Quotes to be Used

  • If you are delivering a speech after setting up some shelter home for refugees, you can quote these lines.

“Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

  • These three lines can be used to console someone passing through hard times of life. These lines can be politically used to deliver a speech when giving shelter to the poor.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”