I watched a documentary on the Statue of Liberty (or, as she is really named, “Liberty Enlightening the World”) today. [I know, I know. Nerdy. I admit. I love documentaries, much to Michael’s chagrin.] I was struck by something the narrator said, which was that the Statue of Liberty is very much the anti-Colossus: she does not stand above all, legs streched from land to land, a masculine symbol of conquest. She is inviting, nuturing almost, feminine and strong, illuminating the way. Come, come – forbid them not. The poem written for her is beautiful, and it made me a little bit proud that one of the prominent symbols of our nation, and also the ideal of liberty (in spite of how we may have perverted it), is an image of a woman:
The New Colossus
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 land, 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!”