From Golden Gate to Golden Door

In 1903, we Americans erected the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. The great bronze sculpture had been presented to us as a gift by France. On the inside of Lady Liberty’s pedestal, these words, composed by Emma Lazarus in 1883, are engraved:

 

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!”

 

These words still ring true to the American spirit. I am greatly inspired by the poem, which Emma had named The Great Colossus.  But times have changed in the 133 years that passed since she was inspired to write it; and our nation has changed greatly since  the sonnet became an anthem that came to express so profoundly  our exceptional American optimism and generosity.

With tender admiration for Emma Lazarus, and for the her verse, and with great respect  for all that Lady Liberty represents to so many Americans, especially the millions who first glimpsed her freedom torch as new immigrants, I submit an update. I hope it may appropriately express a challenge that yet  looms on our bright horizons.

 

It’s not like a political hack with vengeful fights,

and regulative burdens to constrict our plans.

No. Here within our yawning, paved-o’er shores still stands

a beneficent nation with bright hope , whose lights

form the grid and net of a people free, and this our name:

America.      From our electrified sands

glows bold goodwill; our vibrant enterprise, our busy hands

will in time restore  this great worn infrastructure’s frame.

“Lose, o ye couch-potato louts, our cultivated TV sloth!” we must say.

“Stand aside, but hey!” Give us, instead, your energetic poor,

your troubled masses yearning to work their poverty away,

along the rusted refuse of our landfill’d shore.

Send these working folks, recession-toss’d, our way,

We’ll renew it all, from Golden Gate to Golden Door!

 

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: