In honor of the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, we asked Entropy writers to share with us one of the first poems they ever read that got them excited about what poetry could do or changed the way that they thought about poetry, and one of their own poems that they are particularly proud of, still resonates with them, or an early poem.
Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus.” (It was either this or Ginsberg’s “America”— right now though, given the political climate, it’s my hope more people will re-read and reconsider Lazarus’s unabashed embrace of immigrants and, indeed, our own American “poor huddled masses.”)
The New Colossus
By Emma Lazarus
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!”