“America” – Claude / “The New Colossus” – Emma Poem

“America” – Claude / “The New Colossus” – Emma Poem.



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English and Literature

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Essays about “America” by Claude McKay and “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus poems and how they represent the concept of liberty, authority, and resistant


Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” has been used as a sonnet which inspired Americans. “The New Colossus” poem was written by Emma Lazarus to help raise money for the construction of the Statue of Liberty. The poem mainly focused on the statue of liberty, which Lazarus wrote after being asked by the committee to write something about the icon. A statue of liberty was used as a sign of welcome to both the exile and refugee. Liberty expresses freedom acting as a torch to offer light to all, as evidenced in the phrase “mother of exiles.” Additionally, Liberty acts as a symbol to welcome and protect foreigners showing the theme of emigration.

A poem” America” by Claude McKay is a sonnet about America although McKay does not refer to America in verse. The speaker is merely talking about oppression and victimization of black citizens in America, which is inhuman and brutal.


In her poem “America,” McKay provides insight onto American racism to the black citizen, which led to oppression. McKay describes the pitfalls and horribleness of being black in the white world by describing what life as “bread of bitterness.” Nevertheless, McKay turns around quickly and praises the ability of a better future.  She claimed to have no feelings of oppression and that she was optimistic that the future was bright.

In “The New Colossus” poem by Emma Lazarus’, Emma expresses the statue of liberty as a welcoming woman the oppressed, and she names her “Mother of Exiles.” Lady Liberty holds the torch for everyone who is seeking for freedom in a new land will. Statue of liberty represents a sign to accept all the foreigners and make America their new home.


In Claude McKay’s poem “America,” personification provides vivid visualization as in “although she fed me a bitter bread.” The word “She” personifies mother country America and America represents a statue of power which should be given to the tired, weak, and foreigners (McKay, line 1). The homeland country feeds a “bread of bitterness and sink into my throat her tiger’s tooth” (McKay, line 2). “Bitterness” shows the brutality and inhumanity of Americans to black citizens. The speaker shows his “love” for America despite the oppression. Phrase “I will confess” recommend the refusal acting so. The speaker describes the abuse in America as “hell” and thoroughly “testing” him. “test” is a peculiar word used to express endurance.”  “Cultured hell” is also used paradoxically to express stoicism. The speaker is latter able to fight back the oppression after being victimized by America. A Phrase “I stand within her wall with not a shred of terror, malice, not a word of jeer. Darkly gazed into the days ahead, and see her might granite wonders there, beneath the touch of time’s unerring hand, like priceless treasures sinking in the sand”, is an evidence.  McKay was able to draw inspiration from the oppression.

In “The New Colossus,” a poem by Emma Lazarus, the speaker is comparing a statue of liberty with Colossus. She says that America’s icon will be like “a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning” unlike the giant statue (Emma, line 4-5). The writer stressed through this line that the liberty statue would be welcoming. Emma emphasized that liberty will be a good mother to them and will be supporting and comforting them. A phrase “mother of exiles” (Emma, line 6) is piece of evidence. The suggestion was that political liberty and freedom were nearing for restoration of dignity. Finally, maternal statue claims that this exiles are their own and promised to shepherd them through the “golden opportunity.” Evidenced is in the phrase “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.”

Poetic elements

Emma Lazarus in “The New Colossus” poem uses the rhyme scheme as follows –abbaabba+cdcdcd, which means that it has a regular rhyme scheme. Alliteration and assonance are evidenced by phrases “sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand.” Assonance and repetition maintain interest in sound and meaning for the reader and listener (Emma, line 3). An inverse simile is used in the first two lines “not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land.”

The poem has 14 lines, and it has only one stanza. Additionally, a repetition of words is present, as shown in the word “land.” (Emma, line 2).

 Claude McKay, in her poem “America” has a rhyme scheme “abab; cdcd; efef;” gg showing that it has a regular rhyme scheme which gives the poem a rhythm. The writer uses personification in identifying the homeland that is America by using the word “she” in the first stanza. The poet uses imagery as a poetic element to show how America strives to destroy her “sinks into my throat her tigers’ tooth, stealing my breath of life, I will confess love this cultured hell that tests my youth” in (McKay, line 2 -4). McKay provides a view explaining America “darkly gazed into days ahead, see her might and granite wonders there, beneath the touch of time’s unerring hand like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.” (McKay, line 11-14). The phrase “yet as a rebel fronts a king in state, I stand within her walls with not a shred of terror, malice, not a word of jeer,” is used as imagery to express Americas’ hostility and injustices (McKay, lines 8 -10).  Rhyme is used as a poetic element in phrase “sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth” as well as “I stand with her walls with not a shred” and “darkly I gazed into the days ahead” making the reading enjoyable. (McKay, lines 2,4,9 and 11).


“The New Colossus” majorly focuses on immigration, statues, refugees, liberty, and freedom. Emma Lazarus describes how millions of immigrants are seeking exile and sympathy from Harsh regimes. Construction of Statue of Liberty is signing freedom to emigrants and homeless because liberty was a mother the exiles. Assonance and alliteration is used as poetic element make poem interesting to both the reader and the writer as shown in the poem. Finally, a regular rhyme scheme has been used to create a rhythm of the poem.

Claude McKay poem “America focuses mainly on brutality and racism of Americans to Black citizens, but the speaker is optimistic about a bright future.  She has used a regular rhyme scheme to make a poem have a rhythm. The writer uses personification to mean American land by using a feminism word “she.” Imagery has been used to express a clear picture for brutality by Americans and injustices to Africans.


Gabbin, J. V., & Brown, S. A. (2016). Furious Flower: African American Poetry, An Overview. Modern American Poetry: An Online Journal and Multimedia Companion to Anthology of Modern American Poetry.

Gale, C. L. (2016). A Study Guide for Claude McKay’s” The White City”. Gale, Cengage Learning.

James, W. (2017). In the Nest of Extreme Radicalism: Radical Networks and the Bolshevization of Claude McKay in London. Comparative American Studies An International

James, W. (2018). A race outcast from an outcast class: Claude McKay’s experience and analysis of Britain. In West Indian Intellectuals in Britain. Manchester University Press.al Journal, 15(3-4), 174-203.

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