Ms. Liberties Mixed Messages

One of the earliest memories I have is of box from when my family moved in first grade. This was a tiny move, I stayed in the same neighborhood, saw the same stores change into new ones and was honestly too young to even remember my old apartment. Moving is always challenging no matter how far the distance.  I cannot begin to relate or even imagine the hardships, pain or excitement that an immigrant must feel moving across oceans, often to America. Emma Lazarus’ 19th century poem “The New Colossus” portrays the timely message of the American Dream fostered by acceptance. In the mid 1800’s America was able to provide a home for those who were escaping disastrous or bad living conditions, but sadly the feeling of homesickness, longing for a home or a culture is simply not left behind.

Lazarus’ use of a metaphor emphasizes the savior that America provides for those who must leave their home. In the last two lines of her poem she writes, “Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me/ I lift my lamp beside the golden door” (13-14) she compares immigrants to those who have experienced a tempest. This shines a positive light on America and what it as a country can provide for people. The acceptance and wiliness to take anyone in no matter the experiences, or storm like a tempest they have previously gone through. By comparing immigrants experience to a type of storm Lazarus provides a type of relatability for Americans andAmerican immigrants, as no matter where you are in the world there are always storms.


The relatability of a storm creates a bride between immigrants and nonimmigrants, because they cannot relate on many levels. American Immigrants and Americans are inherently different. There is an overall sense of welcoming, relatability and acceptance for immigrants thought out “The New Colossus” and in American morals but this isn’t always the case. By assuming that immigrants have gone through a storm American are almost assuming that America is just better. This sets a foundation of pride in America has that tends to subdue or disrespect other cultures. Immigrants of the late 1800’s may have not wanted to come to America or may have been facing other personal hardships that America as a whole failed to recognize.

Now, prepositioned at the base of the Statue of Liberty this poem still rings true today. The message of acceptance and the American dream remains hopeful and uplifting, but there are certain changes the need to be put in place to make sure that as an American society we are living up to all the poems aspirations.



Lazarus. Emma. “The New Colossus,” 1883.


One thought on “Ms. Liberties Mixed Messages

  1. I like how you elaborated on the term tempest-tost and related it to an immigrant’s migration path. When I googled the definition of tempest, I found that it meant a violent windy storm. This was enlightening because it shows that many times immigration negatively impacts the lives of immigrants yet citizens are so concerned with keeping people out that they overlook the sacrifice that goes along with immigration. I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are several kinds of immigration but when it comes up in casual conversation it is divided into two categories, legal and illegal. Neither of these categories are made salient in the poem which leads me to believe that no matter the type of immigration, legal or illegal, immigrating to a new country is never an easy process. I find this poem to be significant since it shows that the American public does not accept socially accept immigrants even if the government has.

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