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Emma Lazarus
Born 22 July 1849(1849-07-22)
New York City,
Died 19 November 1887 (aged 38)
New York City

Emma Lazarus (July 22, 1849 – November 19, 1887) was an American poet born in New York City.

She is best known for "The New Colossus", a sonnet written in 1883; its final lines were engraved on a bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty[1] in 1912. The sonnet was solicited by William Maxwell Evarts as a donation to an auction, conducted by the "Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty" to raise funds to build the pedestal.[2][3]

Contents

Background

Lazarus was the fourth of seven children of Moshe Lazarus and Esther Nathan, Portuguese Sephardic Jews[4] whose families had been settled in New York since the colonial period. She was related through her mother to Benjamin N. Cardozo, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court.

From an early age, she studied American and European literature, as well as several languages, including German, French, and Italian. Her writings attracted the attention of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He corresponded with her up until his death.

Lazarus is buried in Beth-Olom Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Literary career

She wrote her own poems and edited many adaptations of German poems, notably those of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine. She also wrote a novel and two plays. She wrote "The New Colossus". This is on the pedestal of the statue of liberty.

The New Colossus
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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
source<Emma Lazarus poet by Matina S. Horner

Emma Lazarus, 1883

Lazarus began to be more interested in her Jewish ancestry after reading the George Eliot novel, Daniel Deronda, and as she heard of the Russian pogroms in the early 1880s. This led Lazarus to write articles on the subject. She also began translating the works of Jewish poets into English. Leaving in great numbers the Russian Pale of Settlement, eastern European Ashkenazi Jews immigrated in destitute multitudes to New York in the winter of 1882. Lazarus taught technical education to help them become self-supporting.

She traveled twice to Europe, first in May 1885 after the death of her father in March and again in September 1887. She returned to New York City seriously ill after her second trip and died two months later on 19 November 1887, most likely from Hodgkin's lymphoma.

She is known as an important forerunner of the Zionist movement. She argued for the creation of a Jewish homeland thirteen years before Herzl began to use the term Zionism.[5]

Works

Further reading

  • Cavitch, Max. "Emma Lazarus and the Golem of Liberty," American Literary History 18.1 (2006), 1-28
  • Eiselein, Gregory. Emma Lazarus: Selected Poems and Other Writings. USA: Broadview Press, 2002. ISBN 1-55111-285-X.
  • Jacob, H. E. The World of Emma Lazarus. New York: Schocken, 1949; New York: Kessing Publishers, 2007, ISBN 1-43-2514-164.
  • Lazarus, Emma. Emma Lazarus: Selected Poems. USA: Library of America, 2005. ISBN 1-931082-77-4.
  • Moore, H. S. Liberty's Poet: Emma Lazarus. USA: TurnKey Press, 2004. ISBN 0-9754803-4-0.
  • Schor, Esther. Emma Lazurus. New York: Schocken, 2006. ISBN 0-8052-4216-3. [1]
  • Young, B. R. Emma Lazarus in Her World: Life and Letters. USA: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1997. ISBN 0-8276-0618-4.

This article incorporates text from an edition of the New International Encyclopedia that is in the public domain.

References

  1. ^ Watts, Emily Stipes. The Poetry of American Women from 1632 to 1945. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977: 123. ISBN 0-292-76540-2
  2. ^ Young, Bette Roth (1997). Emma Lazarus in Her World: Life and Letters. The Jewish Publication Society. ISBN 0-8276-0618-4.  p. 3: Auction event named as " Lowell says poem gave the statue "a raison e'tre;" fell into obscurity; not mentioned at statue opening; Georgina Schuyler's campaign for the plaque
  3. ^ Felder, Deborah G.; Diana L Rosen (2003). Fifty Jewish Women Who Changed the World. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2443-X.  p. 45: Solicited by "William Maxwell Evert" [sic; presumably William Maxwell Evarts] Lazarus refused initially; convinced by Constance Cary Harrison
  4. ^ "Jewish Women's Archive: Emma Lazarus". http://jwa.org/exhibits/wov/lazarus/el2.html. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  5. ^ Yearning for Zion by Briana Simon (WZO Hagshama)

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

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 (1849-07-221887-11-19) was an American poet born in New York City.

Sourced

  • The children of the prophets of the Lord,
    Prince, priest, and people, spurned by zealot hate.
    Hounded from sea to sea, from state to state,
    The West refused them, and the East abhorred.
    No anchorage the known world could afford.
  • Then Nature shaped a poet's heart — a lyre
    From out whose chords the lightest breeze that blows
    Drew trembling music.
  • No man had ever heard a nightingale,
    When once a keen-eyed naturalist was stirred
    To study and define — what is a bird.
  • Alas! we wake: one scene alone remains, —
    The exiles by the streams of Babylon.
    • In the Jewish Synagogue at Newport
  • The funeral and the marriage, now, alas!
    We know not which is sadder to recall.
    • In the Jewish Synagogue at Newport
  • A lady 'twixt two knights' stone effigies,
    And every day in dusky glory steeps
    Their sculptured slumber of five centuries.
  • Lo — a black line of birds in wavering thread
    Bore him the greetings of the deathless dead!
  • 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.
  • 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!

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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