Eat, Drink and Be Merry (you know the rest)

I wouldn't believe this if you told me about it, so don't believe me when I tell you about —read the story for yourself.

The City of Orlando, Florida (the home of Disneyworld) has actually passed laws forbidding citizens from feeding the homeless (don't know about pigeons or swans).

During the Great Depression, FDR and the Farm Security Administration, the Works Progress Administration, and Volunteers of America all provided sustenance to the less fortunate.

For Chrissake, even Al Capone sponsored soup kitchens.

To my mind, the people Orlando is now neglecting were once known as:

'Your poor, your tired, your hungry, your huddled masses yearning to be free.'

Or so I thought, but it's a common misquotation. The poem 'The New Colossus' by Emma Lazarus, famously inscribed inside the Statue of Liberty (remember her?), doesn't actually use the word hungry at all. The correct quotation is:

'Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free'

This is reported speech in the poem, a quotation from the Colossus herself. I was a little disappointed to find no ironic reference to 'your hungry' with which to bash the Orlando city clerk. But I did find, serendipitously and even more appropriately, as I read on, that the poem continues:

'The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'

So this 19th century 'Mother of Exiles' categorically extends a welcoming hand to the homeless, whereas paradoxically, in these days of inflated Homeland affairs, Florida is more likely to extend them a taser.

Above is the original holograph sonnet from 1883, in Ms.Lazarus' own handwriting.

Published in exactly the same year, Robert Browning's poetry collection Jocoseria finds the mythological Ixion in righteous revolt against unjust tyranny–one can't help but wonder what he would have thought of Orlando's curmudgeonly greybeards.

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