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Best Famous Emma Lazarus Poems

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by Emma Lazarus |

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!"


by Erica Jong |

Henry James in the Heart of the City

 We have a small sculpture of Henry James on our terrace in New York City.

Nothing would surprise him.
The beast in the jungle was what he saw--
Edith Wharton's obfuscating older brother. . .

He fled the demons
of Manhattan
for fear they would devour
his inner ones
(the ones who wrote the books)
& silence the stifled screams
of his protagonists.

To Europe
like a wandering Jew--
WASP that he was--
but with the Jew's
outsider's hunger. . .

face pressed up
to the glass of sex
refusing every passion
but the passion to write
the words grew
more & more complex
& convoluted
until they utterly imprisoned him
in their fairytale brambles.

Language for me
is meant to be
a transparency,
clear water gleaming
under a covered bridge. . .
I love his spiritual sister
because she snatched clarity
from her murky history.

Tormented New Yorkers both,
but she journeyed
to the heart of light--
did he?

She took her friends on one last voyage,
through the isles of Greece
on a yacht chartered with her royalties--
a rich girl proud to be making her own money.

The light of the Middle Sea
was what she sought.
All denizens
of this demonic city caught
between pitch and black
long for the light.

But she found it
in a few of her books. . .
while Henry James
discovered
what he had probably
started with:
that beast, that jungle,
that solipsistic scream.

He did not join her
on that final cruise.
(He was on his own final cruise).
Did he want to?
I would wager yes.

I look back with love and sorrow
at them both--
dear teachers--
but she shines like Miss Liberty
to Emma Lazarus' hordes,
while he gazes within,
always, at his own
impenetrable jungle.


by Emma Lazarus |

Long Island Sound

 I see it as it looked one afternoon 
In August,-by a fresh soft breeze o'erblown. 
The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon, 
A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon. 
The shining waters with pale currents strewn, 
The quiet fishing-smacks, the Eastern cove, 
The semi-circle of its dark, green grove. 
The luminous grasses, and the merry sun 
In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide, 
Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp 
Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide, 
Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep 
Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon. 
All these fair sounds and sights I made my own.


by Emma Lazarus |

The Taming of the Falcon

 The bird sits spelled upon the lithe brown wrist 
Of yonder turbaned fowler, who had lamed 
No feather limb, but the winged spirit tamed 
With his compelling eye. He need not trust 
The silken coil, not set the thick-limed snare; 
He lures the wanderer with his steadfast gaze, 
It shrinks, it quails, it trembles yet obeys. 
And, lo! he has enslaved the thing of air. 
The fixed, insistent human will is lord 
Of all the earth;--but in the awful sky 
Reigns absolute, unreached by deed or word 
Above creation; through eternity, 
Outshining the sun's shield, the lightening's sword, 
The might of Allah's unaverted eye.


by Emma Lazarus |

Echoes

 THE MIGHT that shaped itself through storm and stress
In chaos, here is lulled in breathing sweet;
Under the long brown ridge in gentleness
 Its fierce old pulses beat.


Quiet and sad we go at eve; the fire
That woke exultant in an earlier day
Is dead; the memories of old desire
 Only in shadows play.


We liken love to this and that; our thought
The echo of a deeper being seems:
We kiss, because God once for beauty sought
 Within a world of dreams.


by Emma Lazarus |

Echoes

 Late-born and woman-souled I dare not hope, 
The freshness of the elder lays, the might 
Of manly, modern passion shall alight 
Upon my Muse's lips, nor may I cope 
(Who veiled and screened by womanhood must grope) 
With the world's strong-armed warriors and recite 
The dangers, wounds, and triumphs of the fight; 
Twanging the full-stringed lyre through all its scope. 
But if thou ever in some lake-floored cave 
O'erbrowed by rocks, a wild voice wooed and heard, 
Answering at once from heaven and earth and wave, 
Lending elf-music to thy harshest word, 
Misprize thou not these echoes that belong 
To one in love with solitude and song.


by Emma Lazarus |

The Supreme Sacrifice

 Well-nigh two thousand years hath Israel 
Suffered the scorn of man for love of God; 
Endured the outlaw's ban, the yoke, the rod, 
With perfect patience. Empires rose and fell, 
Around him Nebo was adored and Bel; 
Edom was drunk with victory, and trod 
On his high places, while the sacred sod 
Was desecrated by the infidel. 
His faith proved steadfast, without breach or flaw, 
But now the last renouncement is required. 
His truth prevails, his God is God, his Law 
Is found the wisdom most to be desired. 
Not his the glory! He, maligned, misknown, 
Bows his meek head, and says, "Thy will be done!"


by Emma Lazarus |

Venus of the Louvre

 Down the long hall she glistens like a star, 
The foam-born mother of Love, transfixed to stone, 
Yet none the less immortal, breathing on. 
Time's brutal hand hath maimed but could not mar. 
When first the enthralled enchantress from afar 
Dazzled mine eyes, I saw not her alone, 
Serenely poised on her world-worshipped throne, 
As when she guided once her dove-drawn car,-- 
But at her feet a pale, death-stricken Jew, 
Her life adorer, sobbed farewell to love. 
Here Heine wept! Here still he weeps anew, 
Nor ever shall his shadow lift or move, 
While mourns one ardent heart, one poet-brain, 
For vanished Hellas and Hebraic plain.


by Emma Lazarus |

St Michaels Chapel

 When the vexed hubbub of our world of gain 
Roars round about me as I walk the street, 
The myriad noise of Traffic, and the beat 
Of Toil's incessant hammer, the fierce strain 
Of struggle hand to hand and brain to brain, 
Ofttimes a sudden dream my sense will cheat, 
The gaudy shops, the sky-piled roofs retreat, 
And all at once I stand enthralled again 
Within a marble minster over-seas. 
I watch the solemn gold-stained gloom that creeps 
To kiss an alabaster tomb, where sleeps 
A lady 'twixt two knights' stone effigies, 
And every day in dusky glory steeps 
Their sculptured slumber of five centuries.


by Emma Lazarus |

To R.W.E.

 As when a father dies, his children draw 
About the empty hearth, their loss to cheat 
With uttered praise & love, & oft repeat 
His all-familiar words with whispered awe. 
The honored habit of his daily law, 
Not for his sake, but theirs whose feeble feet 
Need still that guiding lamp, whose faith, less sweet, 
Misses that tempered patience without flaw, 
So do we gather round thy vacant chair, 
In thine own elm-roofed, amber-rivered town, 
Master & Father! For the love we bear, 
Not for thy fame's sake, do we weave this crown, 
And feel thy presence in the sacred air, 
Forbidding us to weep that thou art gone.