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!"
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, this week on poet John Hollander's introduction to Emma Lazarus: Selected Poems. Her most famous poem above was composed in honor of the Statue of Liberty, as I imagine just about all Jewish immigrant daughters like myself learn at a young age. "The freshness of imagination in 'The New Colossus' is striking," Pinsky writes. "The brass ('brazen') Colossus of Rhodes embodies conquest, while this statue, a woman, is the 'Mother of Exiles,' with a lamp instead of a weapon. Lazarus died young of cancer, and her sister, "'by this time an Anglo-Catholic convert,' in Hollander's words, prevented publication of a Complete Poems in 1926 because so much of Lazarus's material was Jewish. Hollander calls attention to another sonnet:
By Emma Lazarus
Thou two-faced year, Mother of Change and Fate,
Didst weep when Spain cast forth with flaming sword,
The children of the prophets of the Lord,
Prince, priest, and people, spurned by zealot hate.
Hounded from sea to sea, from state to state,
The West refused them, and the East abhorred.
No anchorage the known world could afford,
Close-locked was every port, barred every gate.
Then smiling, thou unveil'dst, O two-faced year,
A virgin world where doors of sunset part,
Saying, "Ho, all who weary, enter here!
There falls each ancient barrier that the art
Of race or creed or rank devised, to rear
Grim bulwarked hatred between heart and heart!"
This year is important to Jews not only because of Columbus but because of the edict in Spain creating the Inquisition-era diaspora (and Sephardic Judaism). Here is one more Lazarus poem that stuck with me, also from the new collected edition:
Age and Death
By Emma Lazarus
Come closer, kind, white, long-familiar friend,
Embrace me, fold me to thy broad, soft breast.
Life has grown strange and cold, but thou dost bend
Mild eyes of blessing wooing to my rest.
So often hast thou come, and from my side
So many hast thou lured, I only bide
Thy beck, to follow glad thy steps divine.
Thy world is peopled for me; this world's bare.
Through all these years my couch thou didst prepare.
Thou art supreme Love -- kiss me -- I am thine!
It has been quite a long day and I have not even glanced at the flist since mid-week so let me apologize for that up front. We all had to be up and out by 9 a.m. for a meeting for Bar-Bat Mitzvah families at Hebrew school, which apaulled and younger son left early to go to his soccer game while I stayed with older son, then we all met up for lunch and took a walk at Cabin John Park before coming home so I could crank out a review round-up before going to see DC United in the evening. Younger son's aforementioned soccer team (which lost today, sadly) had won a sportsmanship award with free tickets for the kids and discounted tickets for everyone else, so we all went and had a picnic in the perfect, perfect cool weather along the filthy Anacostia River where everyone has tailgate parties.
This was only the second MLS game I have ever attended, the first since Freddy Adu arrived in DC, and it was enormously fun. I loved being at a professional sports event announced in both English and Spanish. They gave the kids t-shirts, keychains and discount tickets to additional games (given the relatively empty stadium that last is not surprising). Adu didn't play until the last ten minutes, when United was up 2-1 and seemed on track to win; he made an assist on the third and clinching goal by Christian Gomez, who also scored the second, while the first came from a Jaime Moreno spot kick. I won't even pretend to be able to talk about strategy but it was a fast-paced game and far more fun to watch than soccer on television.
The man -- err, boy -- everyone wanted to see, number 9. I wondered how the older players who anchor the team felt about the screaming standing ovation Adu got when he came on the field.
Sorry about our son's friend's father's shoulder being in this photo, I was just so excited that it came out at all: this is Adu's assist to Gomez who kicked the ball in for a goal.
The Screaming Eagles, devoted DC United fans who raise money for charity when they're not throwing confetti, waving pirate flags, displaying up an enormous banner that takes at least 20 people to hold up or banging drums to cheer on the team. This was just after a goal, when the big banner and whatever form of fairy dust they wave around were still up.
Some of the loot each young soccer player received (the blue fingers are from cotton candy). We left with four minutes on the clock, when the score was 3-1, and apparently missed another goal by the Kansas City Wizards, a fistfight and United having to finish the game short a player -- no sportsmanship prizes for them.
The mascot poses with some of the legions of kids at the game.
About a third of the kids on younger son's soccer team have older siblings in Hebrew school, so we spent nearly all day with the same people -- none really our good friends, but all people who have known our kids since they were very young, and one's the husband of my sister's college roommate whom we first met before we had kids. So, fun.