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!”
This poem was written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 as a donation to an auction of art and literary works held by the Art Loan Fund Exebition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty. And of course the poem resides there today.
Today is Lady Liberty Day.
Back when France was still France, and France still liked us, they sent the Statue of Liberty, or Liberty Enlightening The World as it is really called to the United States of America. It was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
It arrived on this date in 1885.
No, I wasn’t there!
Ms Lazarus refers to the Giant Statue that spanned the harbor of Rhodes. It was called the Colossus of Rhodes, and is considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was a statue of the city’s patron god, Helios.
Lady Liberty is a woman wearing a stola, the traditional Roman garment that was the counterpart to the Toga men wore, sandals, a crown, trampeling a broken chain, and carrying a torch in her right hand. In her left arm is a tablet which has JULY IV MDCCLXXVI, which is the date the Declaration was signed.
The classical dress, including the sandals and crown, is based on the Roman goddess, Libertas, her right foot is raised, and she is trampeling a broken shackles representing America’s break from the grip of the British Empire.
You see, France and The US became buddies back during the Revolutionary war, when they helped save our asses at Yorktown.
The torch represents enlightenment as our freedom enlightens the world and encourages the same – back in the day, the French got the revolution idea and took it a little further.
The tablet or Keystone in her other hand reminds us of wisdom.
Libertas has been the symbol of liberty and freedom for over 2000 years.
And Lady Liberty has been ours for over 100 years.
The Colossus, though reportedly UP for decades, is gone. Ours is still there. Let’s hope Lady Liberty stands a long, long time.