The New Colossus
Reading Comprehension Activity

Author: Emma Lazarus

Written by Emma Lazurus in 1883, this poem appears on the base of the Statue of Liberty. After reading the poem, students will answer questions on the rhyme scheme, the figurative language, and the theme.

Topic(s): Political Writings. Skill(s): Theme, Figurative Language, Rhythm & Rhyme. Genre(s): Poetry

Click for the passage & questions on one printable PDF.


This poem appears at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. The opening is comparing the statue to the ancient Colossus of Rhodes.


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “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,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Comprehension Questions

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