Thursday, June 5, 2014

The immigrants

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breath free
                                          - Emma Lazarus
                                    "The New Colossus"

Throughout the nineteenth century,
New immigrants, each steady wave,
Braved the vast, uncaring sea
To reach our shores, so they could be
The masters of their destiny,
And celebrate what free men crave.

The ocean's dangers to be crossed,
On steerage decks of sailing ships;
Despite the risks, by storm winds tossed,
Their golden dreams were never lost,
To live free men at any cost,
That goal held strongly in their grip.

What was there to deliberate?
The families, children in tow.
Refused serfdom's dismal fate.
They kept their pledge to immigrate,
A pledge they soon would consummate,
On distant shores they'd yet to know.

The Irish, Germans, Czechs, and Poles,
And others, bitten by unrest,
Their purpose now under control,
Planned fuller lives and richer goals,
And scorned their former lowly roles,
Determined to achieve the best.

Their "welcome" was a cruel disgrace;
Rejected by each "patriot,"
Contempt was what they had to face,
As though they were a lesser race,
Intent to steal another's place,
Revilcd work would be their lot.

And work they did, denied all aid;
And learned the language day by day.
They dug canals; though poorly paid,
Worked more, and railroad tracks were laid,
Long tunnels carved and bridges made,
Improved the land, and there they stayed.

They spread throughout the good young land,
Established roots from sea to sea,
On dirt-poor farms, or ocean strand,
Or frontier cities, man by man,
The strong, the weak, from every land,
The builders of democracy.

1 comment:

  1. Terrific. I think this is one of your best, at least among those I've read.