Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 13: Sonnet: The New Colossus

by Emma Lazarus

lesson image
The Statue of Liberty

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!"

    Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 13: Sonnet: The New Colossus

by Emma Lazarus


Study the poem for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the poem each day.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read about the poetic form.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


The next poetic form we'll explore is called the sonnet. Sonnets are a poetic form of fourteen lines that follow one of a few common rhyming schemes. Emma Lazarus wrote her famous 1883 Italian sonnet, "The New Colossus," comparing America's famed Statue of Liberty as an icon of immigrants to the ancient Greek Colossus of Rhodes as an icon of war. The term "Colossus" is defined as an enormous, larger-than-life statue. "The New Colossus" poem was inscribed on a plaque and installed at the Statue of Liberty in 1903. The French gave the United States the Statue of Liberty as a gift in honor of their alliance during the American Revolutionary War. "The New Colossus" follows the characteristic da-DUM rhythm of the iambic pentameter as described in the "Concepts" section.


Poems often adhere to specific poetic forms, defined as 'poems following distinct sets of rules.'

The nine poetic forms we'll study include the:

  1. Sijo: A lyrical Korean poetic form of three long lines.
  2. Haiku: A Japanese poem of three lines and a total of seventeen syllables.
  3. Limerick: A humorous poem of five lines and the rhyming scheme AABBA, typically having syllables of 9–9–6–6–9.
  4. Sonnet: A poetic form of fourteen lines that follow one of a few common rhyming schemes.
  5. Epitaph
  6. Acrostic
  7. Visual
  8. Ode
  9. Blank Verse

Traditional sonnets follow the listed rules:

  1. Consist of fourteen (14) lines
  2. Commonly adhere to iambic pentameter
  3. In English, often follow an ABAB–CDCD–EFEF–GG rhyme scheme

Although we'll not delve into the details, listed below are six common types of sonnets:

  1. Italian Sonnet
  2. Petrarchan Sonnet
  3. Shakespearean Sonnet
  4. Spenserian Sonnet
  5. Miltonic Sonnet
  6. Terza Rima Sonnet

'The New Colossus' is written in iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter is all about the rhythm:

  1. The rhythm is da-DUM | da-DUM | da-DUM | da-DUM | da-DUM, with an emphasis on the 'DUM.'
  2. Read the second line in the poem, emphasizing the rhythm.
  3. with CON | quering LIMBS | as-TRIDE | from LAND | to LAND
  4. Note how there are five (5) groupings of da-DUM - the penta in pentameter means '5.'


Activity 1: Recite the Poem Title, Poet Name, and Poem

  • Each day this week, recite aloud the title of the poem, the name of the poet, and the poem.

Activity 2: Study the Poem Picture

Study the poem picture and describe how it relates to the poem.

Activity 3: Narrate the Poem

  • After reading the poem, narrate the poem events aloud using your own words.

Activity 4: Map the Poem

  • France gave the Statue of Liberty to the United States. Find France on the map.
  • The Statue of Liberty is located in New York City. Find New York City on the map.
  • Colossus of Rhodes was located in Rhodes, Greece. Find Greece on the map.

Activity 5: See the Colossus and the Plaque

  • Study the rendering of the original Colossus of the Greek god of the sun, Helios.
  • Read aloud the sonnet off the photo of the plaque installed at the Statue of Liberty.

Activity 6: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete page 16 of 'Elementary Poetry 6: Poetic Forms.'


  1. 'Sonnet.' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.
  2. 'Iambic Pentameter.' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.
  3. 'Emma Lazarus.' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.