Emma Lazarus Project

The Emma Lazarus Project explores the story of Emma Lazarus, a fifth-generation American Jew caught in an important turning point in American and Jewish History. The initiative—including an exhibit, curriculum and poetry contest—uses primary sources straight from the archive to encourage students to piece together Emma’s fascinating story, and to join the ongoing conversation about American identity.

A Copper Goddess

by Skye Papa

Middle School



A copper goddess towers over the poor and pitied

Her torch held up high

She stands sturdy, bursting with pride and majesty

Glowing with anticipation for the bright future to come

But her people ignore her, and refuse her protection

And allow her glistening beige skin to be tarnished by hate

They allow her hope to fade into a melancholy silence

And her skin to melt into muddy green, losing its shine

A copper goddess towers over the poor and pitied, forgotten and alone

Her splendor not gone, but her voice silenced

Her hope still apparent, but her beauty disregarded and left aside

Fearful of the future, a tapestry of tears, a soliloquy of sorrow

In pain she kneels downward

And whimpers across the sea to whoever shall hear

“Give me your poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

And they listen, and ride her wave of hope across oceans

As a flood of love crashes against her feet

She is given new life

Her skin still green, but the hate now faded away

And acknowledged she stands once more

A copper goddess towers over the poor and pitied, her hope restored

Though omitted by those who gave into hatred

She stands proud and tall and free and known and elated

Torch burning into the stars of and endless, silent night