Sunday, November 22, 2015

Poetry Sunday: The New Colossus

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
                                                                   - Sinclair Lewis
I thought of that famous Sinclair Lewis quote this week as we watched and listened in disbelief as people who think they are qualified to be the next president vied with each other to see which one could out-fascist the rest in their response to last week's bombing in Paris and the plight of Syrian refugees trying to escape the horror of ISIL/ISIS/Daesh - whatever you want to call that terrorist organization. It has been a thoroughly disgusting display of fearmongering and politicizing a tragedy and I suspect we'll be in for more of the same and probably worse in the months to come.
As we consider the plight of the unfortunate refugees, perhaps we need to remind ourselves of just who we are and how our country was founded and grew to be what it is today. We are first and foremost a nation of exiles. When we choose to deny sanctuary to those fleeing war and tyranny, we dishonor our history and we besmirch the names and lives of those immigrants who made us what we are.
There's really only one poem that seems appropriate for this Poetry Sunday.

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!”

"Mother of Exiles"

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