Poetry Month: Emma Lazarus

There are so many wonderful American women poets, from Anne Bradstreet to Phillis Wheatley to Sylvia Plath to Sandra Cisneros. To close out Poetry Month, I thought it would be nice to share two poems that honor the best of the United States. The first is The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, written to raise money for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, upon which the poem was later inscribed. The second is America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates, originally published as Pikes Peak in 1895 and inspired by Bates's trip to Pikes Peak with a stop at the World's Columbian Exposition along the way. (I like to replace brotherhood with "sisterhood" when I sing it.)

Statue of Liberty

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!” 

America the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!