Emma Lazarus (July 22, 1849 – November 19, 1887) was an American author and activist. Her first published work was a collection of poems that she wrote between the ages of 14 and 17. In addition to writing poetry she was a novelist, a playwright, an editor of works by famous German poets, and a literary critic.
In the 1880s, as thousands of Russian Jews began immigrating to the United States, she began to advocate on their behalf, helping establish the Hebrew Technical Institute in New York to provide vocational training to Jewish immigrants and volunteering in the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society.
Lazarus is perhaps best remembered for her sonnet “The New Colossus,” lines from which appear on a bronze plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”