Poetry Corner: Emma Lazarus
This country really needs to change the way it screens the people who come here, and the policies about who is or isn’t allowed in. We certainly don’t want to let in terrorists or criminals. But at the same time, we need to find a fair and equitable way to let in people who contribute to this country’s well-being by working hard and earning their place in society.
Evidence that the current system doesn’t work: All of the 9-11 terrorists entered this country legally. Their only illegal act, prior to the terrorist attack, was that some of them overstayed their visas. On the other hand, the government deported a large number of illegal immigrants working in a chicken-processing plant in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in many cases leaving their children stranded in day-care with nobody to care for them.
What’s the bigger threat – illegal immigrants chopping up chickens in a factory, or mostly-legal visitors taking sufficient pilot training to crash airliners into important buildings?
OK, enough diatribe, let’s get to the poetry. The final sestet of this poem is well-known. The first part of the sonnet is not so familiar.
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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
This is what I think about when I see all of those students who have come here, often at great risk, from someplace else.