$20 BA Members and Poets' Theatre Supporters / $30 Visitors
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
These words have become as well known and as deeply embedded in American patriotic lore as those of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Gettysburg Address, or the Declaration of Independence. But few remember that these lines are excerpted from an 1883 sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus. Though the lines were meant to interpret the Statue of Liberty, they transformed the statue’s original purpose, turning it into a welcoming symbol for wave after wave of immigrants to the United States. The poem and the statue have a tangled history, for both are contemporaneous with a virulent anti-immigration movement that started in Boston. Drawing from the Athenæum’s collections, this presentation explores resentment of immigrants in turn-of-the-century Boston, as well as poetic responses sympathetic to the immigrant cause.
This event is presented in partnership with The Poets' Theatre.