Monthly Archives: October 2013

Poetry Immigration


In reflecting on the poem, “The New Colossus”, I wanted to find a poem that was written more recently as a means of comparing past and present viewpoints on the topic of immigration. In doing so, I found a poem titled, “Poetry Immigration”, by John Myers. The poem was written in 2008. Toward the end of his poem, he addresses an important aspect of current public opinion on immigration: that it changes. He includes lines such as, “Send them all back where they came from”, as a means of depicting the negativity that often initially surrounds immigration. Many American citizens are apprehensive to welcome people who do not entirely resemble themselves. As time progresses, Myers states the following: “Eventually each group melds into the giant pot.” The more that immigrants begin to resemble current Americans, the easier it is for them to gain approval. Thus, Myers suggests that Americans are much more accepting of immigrants if they are able to find a way to coexist with those currently living in the country. Often, this means leaving behind their old ways of life in order to adopt those of the Americans. As long as this is done successfully, the public opinion toward immigration is rather positive. While acceptance is usually the outcome, is it authentic? Is the way that we go about acceptance the right way? Should we have to go through the apprehension in order to attain a resolution? I am unsure about answers to these questions.

The New Colossus

Source: AP Images =

When I first think about immigration, my mind immediately strays to Ellis Island and the State of Liberty. I was intrigued to find out that engraved on a plaque inside the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands is a poem written by Emma Lazarus, an American poet. The poem, “The New Colossus”, was written in 1883. In 1903, it was engraved on the plaque. What makes this poem so important is that it depicts the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of hope for those who had become hopeless. When the immigrants arrive to Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty is the first thing that they see. She invites them in (thus why her back is turned to America), welcoming those who are “tired”, “poor”, “homeless”, etc. to become hopeful once more. The engraving of this poem on the Statue of Liberty is indicative of how the public felt about immigration. The public was open to accepting new immigrants and open to providing them with the possibility of a better life. Engraving such a poem into the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands suggests that this mode of thinking is inscribed into the minds of the people. As Americans, we must be accepting of others because we are the land of the free. We must make sure that others are able to share this freedom. “The New Colossus” suggests that, even in the early 1900s, American citizens were open to this idea.