Fourth of July salute to freedom in art and poetry

by | Jul 3, 2020 | Announcements and Events, Art, Poetry and Music

These are not the best times for America. The nation has been ravaged by the coronavirus and rent by racial divisions. For all this, Americans have good reason to celebrate the 4th of July in a big way. As John Adams, the second president of the United States, wrote:

It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.’ (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776)

I tust that the following watercolour drawing by Winslow Homer and Emma Lazarus’ iconic poem will be a source of inspiration to all American readers of Marine Café Blog.

Sailboat and Fourth of July Fireworks, 1880, by Winslow Homer (1836 – 1910)

Dabs of bright light puncture the sombre night sky in this watercolour drawing by American marine artist Winslow Homer. The fireworks seem to reverberate as they are mirrored in the water. Interestingly, Homer places the sailboat close to the right edge of the paper, thus creating a sense of movement. Could the sailboat symbolise America today as it tries to find its way through dark times?

The New Colossus

by Emma Lazarus (1849 – 1887)

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!”

Statue of Liberty unveiled, 1886,
by Edward Moran (1829 – 1901)

 

American poet Emma Lazarus is best known for her sonnet to the Statue of Liberty, ‘The New Colossus’. The poem is inscribed on the base of the colossal monument. Lazarus ends her sonnet with a powerful and eloquent expression of the American ideal: “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!” 

~ Barista Uno

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