“The New Colossus” -Emma Lazarus’s

UK Best Essay Writing

“The New Colossus” -Emma Lazarus’s

“The New Colossus” -Emma Lazarus’s

One of the most famous poems ever written about the United States is Emma Lazarus’s sonnet, “The New Colossus,” published in 1883 and engraved on a bronze plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1903. (Lazarus was the descendant of Portuguese Jews who had emigrated to New York before the American Revolution.) Claude McKay was probably thinking about Lazarus’s poem when he wrote his own sonnet, titled “America” (1921). Born in Jamaica, McKay emigrated to the U.S. in 1912 and moved to New York City in 1914, where he would become one of the major figures in the movement of African-American artists known as the Harlem Renaissance.

Write a commentary on McKay’s poem, addressing such questions as these: • How might we read McKay’s poem as a response to Lazarus’s poem? • Why might McKay have chosen the sonnet form? What does the structure of the sonnet enable McKay to do? • What kind of sonnet form has McKay adopted, and how is he using its features? For example, how does he move from quatrain to quatrain? • As we discussed in class, sonnets often have some kind of “turn”–usually between the first eight lines (the octave) and the remaining six (the sestet). How is McKay using his turn? (And how would you compare it with Lazarus’ turn?) • How does McKay’s couplet conclude the poem, and how is it connected to the beginning? • What is the argument of the poem, and how is it made through image and metaphor? Is there more than one thought or feeling developed in the poem?

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