American poet (1849–1887)
- I seem to have always one little window looking but into life.
- From her obituary in Century Magazine
- Poetry must be simple, sensuous, or impassioned.
- From Critic and Poet - An Apologue
- Sweet empty sky of June without a stain,
Faint, gray-blue dewy mists on far-off hills
Warm, yellow sunlight flooding mead and plain,
That each dark copse and hollow overfills:
- Beginning lines from Epochs I. Youth.
- The children of the prophets of the Lord,
Prince, priest, and people, spurned by zealot hate.
Hounded from sea to sea, from state to state,
The West refused them, and the East abhorred.
No anchorage the known world could afford.
- Then Nature shaped a poet's heart — a lyre
From out whose chords the lightest breeze that blows
Drew trembling music.
- Chopin, IV
- No man had ever heard a nightingale,
When once a keen-eyed naturalist was stirred
To study and define — what is a bird.
- No signs of life are here: the very prayers
Inscribed around are in a language dead.
- Alas! we wake: one scene alone remains, —
The exiles by the streams of Babylon.
- In the Jewish Synagogue at Newport
- The funeral and the marriage, now, alas!
We know not which is sadder to recall.
- In the Jewish Synagogue at Newport
- A lady 'twixt two knights' stone effigies,
And every day in dusky glory steeps
Their sculptured slumber of five centuries.
- Lo — a black line of birds in wavering thread
Bore him the greetings of the deathless dead!
- 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.
- 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 (1883)
- The Jewish problem is as old as history and assumes in each age a new form. All the magnanimity, patience, charity, and humanity, which the Jews have manifested in return for centuries of persecution, have been thus far inadequate to eradicate the profound antipathy engendered by fanaticism and ready to break out in one or another shape at any moment of popular excitement.
- The Jewish Problem (1883)
Quotes about edit
- Another founding mother was the American Emma Lazarus, who was affected as much by her country's civil war as by the Russian pogroms in the late nineteenth century...Lazarus perceived herself as a Sephardic Jew, but she didn't want to isolate herself from the contemporary American literary community. When her friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson failed to include her poems in his anthology Parnassus (1874), which included works by prominent and promising national poets, Lazarus wrote him an angry letter. "I cannot resist the impulse of expressing to you my extreme disappointment at finding you have so far modified the enthusiastic estimate you held of my literary labors as to refuse me a place in the large & miscellaneous collection of poems you have just edited," she wrote. And so, she wondered why "I find myself treated with absolute contempt in the very quarter where I had been encouraged to build my fondest hopes." Her letter to Emerson might be read in at least two ways: as a woman's angry response to the "arbitrary" exclusion by a prominent male critic and essayist from "a fair share of immortality"; and as the response by a Jew, as a member of an ethnic and religious minority, who felt that she had been discriminated against. It is interesting, therefore, to note that Lazarus sought to introduce American readers to figures such as Bar Kokhba, the Jewish soldier who led the final revolt against the Romans in Palestine in 132-35 CE, and to Rashi, the twelfth-century biblical and talmudic commentator from Troyes, France. She also wrote a poem about the Touro Synagogue, the famous Sephardic house of worship that was established in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1763. In addition to translating into English the poetry of the popular German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, Lazarus also translated poems by Ibn Gabirol, Halevi, and Ibn Ezra, thus building a bridge between Sephardic life in the United States and the medieval Hebrew past.
- Ilan Stavans Introduction to The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature (2005)