This is a classic Petrarchan sonnet; it is comprised of fourteen lines of iambic pentameter verse, with a clear rhyme scheme: abba abba cdcdcd. Working within this tight and tidy frame, Lazarus powerfully sets America, as a country fiercely committed to welcoming immigrants, apart from Europe, represented here as an imperial force.
Suggested Activities: Ask students to consider how Lazarus’s poem adds to or changes their understanding of the Statue of Liberty as an American symbol. Ask those who had previously heard only an excerpt of the poem to consider how the rest of the poem affects their understanding of that famous line. For a more in-depth project, have students go out into their communities (or online) and find another public monument with an inscription. Ask them to research both the monument and the inscription and to consider how the two work together to create a meaningful symbol.
Or, ask students to write a poem or short prose piece that might be posted today at JFK airport or some other prominent port of entry for immigrants and refugees. Ask students to consider: What should be said about America in such a location? How should it be said?