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The Little Review
Making No Compromises With the Public Taste
Poem for Tuesday, Liberty and Ellis Island 
Tuesday, 18th January 2011 12:10 am

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!"


I spent another fabulous day in New York with my family and dementordelta, starting with an early ferry ride from New Jersey to Ellis Island, where my great-grandparents and some of Paul's great-great-grandparents arrived in the U.S. I'd never been there before and found the museum fascinating -- there's a film, a large central area tracking immigration throughout the peak eras, and several rooms of exhibits ranging from ship manifests and medical forms (including the mental tests immigrants were given to determine basic competency) to items carried from the old world and family photos. The enormous Registry Room has been restored to a somewhat later date than my relatives would have arrived, but it's still amazing to see the size of it. It's impossible for me not think politically about the shifts in immigration policy since, and the attitudes even among children of first-generation immigrants, not that I have any perfect solutions to propose.

Then we took the ferry to Liberty Island, where we ate lunch at the restaurant (they have veggie burgers, yay) and walked up the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, which is nearly half the height of the entire statue. The views both of the statue itself and of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island are spectacular, and there were lots of birds -- seagulls, pigeons (who were walking around inside the ferry trying to mooch food), sparrows, Canada geese -- to watch as well as people from all over visiting Lady Liberty. I enjoyed the museum there a lot too, which focuses on the history and building of the statue but also has commemorative souvenirs and Liberty in popular culture. After taking the ferry back to New Jersey, we drove home down the Turnpike and I-95, watching both Bridget Jones movies while in the car (Colin Firth: awesome, Renee Zellwegger: trying hard, Screenplay: ick). There was a winter storm forecast for after midnight, but it had already started by 6 p.m., and we got home in snow that has turned to sleet and may delay school. So ends our holiday weekend!

The Statue of Liberty from the ferry on the way from Ellis Island, which loops around to show passengers how the approach looked for immigrants.

Me at the entrance to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

This is the entrance hall of the museum, filled with immigrant luggage and photos.

Here I am with Delta on near the Immigrant Wall of Honor, with Manhattan Island behind us...

...and here is my family on the other side of Ellis Island with Liberty Island behind us.

At the base of the Statue of Liberty, a seagull, a barge, and, in the distance, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island.

This is the original torch of the Statue of Liberty, which was damaged after several attempts to turn it into a lighthouse failed. Now there's a new solid torch on the statue and this one is in the museum.
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