Last week the country became reacquainted with Emma Lazarus’s sonnet “The New Colossus.”
Ms. Lazarus, born 170 years ago last month, wrote the sonnet in 1883 to help raise funds for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal.
Unfortunately she did not live to see her iconic poem cast in bronze on a plaque mounted inside the statue.
But fortunately she also did not live to hear members of the Trump administration suggest that the poem’s invitation to tired, poor, huddled immigrants “yearning to breathe free” is directed not to poor people of color, but to Europeans with means.
If President Trump were himself a poet he might push to replace Ms. Lazarus’s poem with a narrower message, something more appealing to his political base, something less inviting. something more self-aggrandizing, something like the following sonnet.
“The New Narcissus” (with apologies to Ms. Lazarus)
“I like the brazen statues of Greek fame:
Those conquering Grecians sure did understand
The way to market their colossal brand,
Much as I trade on my triumphant name.
I know full well to marry fear and blame,
And feel no shame of insincere command;
With savage tweets and bellows I have fanned
The smold’ring anti-sanctuary flame.
‘Keep, sh*thole lands, your colored poor!’ say I
With sneering lips. ‘This is the MAGA shore.’
The muddled press complains; they lie and lie.
Our borders, under me, will cede no more.
The dusky clamorers need not apply –
I’ll build my wall and slam the golden door!”