From today's Writer's Almanac:
Today in 1884, the cornerstone of the Statue of Liberty's pedestal was laid. It was largely funded by an auction of contributed art and literary works. Emma Lazarus, 34 years old at the time, donated a poem for the occasion, which she titled "The New Colossus."
Lazarus was devoted to the plight of Jewish immigrants, and she imagined that the statue would become a symbol of hope for all Ellis Island arrivals. The poem was forgotten for nearly 20 years, after which Lazarus' friends lobbied to have it emblazoned on a plaque and hung in the museum inside the pedestal. From there, it went on to define not just the monument but also the country's immigration policy. The poem ends in the voice of the lady of the harbor:
"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!"
Read David Lehman's article about Emma Lazarus and her enduring poem here.