Emma Lazarus

The poetry of Emma Lazarus (1849-1887), best known for the verse inscribed on the Statue of Liberty pedestal

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Lazarus was offering her country a mantra, open-hearted words to live by: “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!”

Emma Lazarus died in 1887, at the age of 38, a scant four years after “The New Colossus” was published, and 16 years before it appeared on Lady Liberty. Her career was short lived but dazzling. Lazarus is remembered for her ode to America’s newest arrivals, but her poetry remembers the old world they left behind as well.

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Saul Austerlitz

Saul Austerlitz is a writer and film critic in New York.