Seen & Noted: Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States Course

In September of 2003, I was enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States course at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. On September 10th, I wrote in my “Seen and Noted” notebook:

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus is like the advertisement for the U.S.

A line uttered by the professor. I probably took note because by that time, I was interested in advertising.

Here’s the poem:

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!”
-The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus-
It does advertise. In a good way. It expressions compassion, empathy and hope. But it’s not an ad. It’s a poem. Art. But, isn’t a given that art is more persuasive than any form of advertising?

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