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!”


  1. Lazarus’s poem makes exemplary use of enjambment. In particular, from lines 4 to 7 each is split between two separate phrases and the phrases themselves wind around the line breaks. This produces a sense of mounting tension. Her use of enjambment continues until the start of the colossus’s exclamation here in line 10, which concludes the poem in a tone of resoluteness and righteousness.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. This line marks the volta in the sonnet, which transitions from the voice of the speaker to the voice of the New Colossus herself. She dismisses the “ancient lands” and “storied pomp” and expresses a desire to embrace the tired, poor, and those seeking freedom from the abuses of the rest of the world.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. The octave offers a sense of hope and idealism by employing alliteration and imagery—such as “sea-washed, sunset gates,” the lady’s “world-wide welcome,” and “her mild eyes” commanding the harbor.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. Whereas the Greek colossus is masculine and “brazen,” Lazarus’s speaker depicts the different power of the “might woman” and “Mother of Exiles.” Unlike the conqueror at Rhodes, the New Colossus stands as a beacon that welcomes the exiles of the world.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. This poem takes the form of a Petrarchan sonnet. It contains 14 lines with a rhyme scheme that runs ABBAABBA CDCDCD, with a little variation in the final six lines.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. Lazarus’s speaker clarifies the comparison between the new and old by saying that while the Greek colossus stood as a conqueror, the New Colossus, is “not like” that. The speaker continues by emphasizing the distinction between the two, noting how Lady Liberty will be a nurturing force.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. The title and this simile draw a comparison between New York’s “New Colossus” and “the brazen giant of Greek fame.” The latter alludes to the Colossus of Apollo, which is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor