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by Phillis Wheatley | |

To a Lady on the Death of Her Husband

Grim monarch! see, depriv'd of vital breath,
A young physician in the dust of death:
Dost thou go on incessant to destroy,
Our griefs to double, and lay waste our joy?
"Enough" thou never yet wast known to say,
Though millions die, the vassals of thy sway:
Nor youth, nor science, nor the ties of love,
Nor aught on earth thy flinty heart can move.
The friend, the spouse from his dire dart to save, In vain we ask the sovereign of the grave.
Fair mourner, there see thy lov'd Leonard laid, And o'er him spread the deep impervious shade; Clos'd are his eyes, and heavy fetters keep His senses bound in never-waking sleep, Till time shall cease, till many a starry world Shall fall from heav'n, in dire confusion hurl'd, Till nature in her final wreck shall lie, And her last groan shall rend the azure sky: Not, not till then his active soul shall claim His body, a divine immortal frame.
But see the softly-stealing tears apace Pursue each other down the mourner's face; But cease thy tears, bid ev'ry sigh depart, And cast the load of anguish from thine heart: From the cold shell of his great soul arise, And look beyond, thou native of the skies; There fix thy view, where fleeter than the wind Thy Leonard mounts, and leaves the earth behind.
Thyself prepare to pass the vale of night To join for ever on the hills of light: To thine embrace his joyful sprit moves To thee, the partner of his earthly loves; He welcomes thee to pleasures more refin'd, And better suited to th' immortal mind.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To S. M. a young African Painter on seeing his Works

To show the lab'ring bosom's deep intent,
And thought in living characters to paint,
When first thy pencil did those beauties give,
And breathing figures learnt from thee to live,
How did those prospects give my soul delight,
A new creation rushing on my sight?
Still, wond'rous youth! each noble path pursue,
On deathless glories fix thine ardent view:
Still may the painter's and the poet's fire
To aid thy pencil, and thy verse conspire!
And may the charms of each seraphic theme
Conduct thy footsteps to immortal fame!
High to the blissful wonders of the skies
Elate thy soul, and raise thy wishful eyes.
Thrice happy, when exalted to survey That splendid city, crown'd with endless day, Whose twice six gates on radiant hinges ring: Celestial Salem blooms in endless spring.
Calm and serene thy moments glide along, And may the muse inspire each future song! Still, with the sweets of contemplation bless'd, May peace with balmy wings your soul invest! But when these shades of time are chas'd away, And darkness ends in everlasting day, On what seraphic pinions shall we move, And view the landscapes in the realms above? There shall thy tongue in heav'nly murmurs flow, And there my muse with heav'nly transport glow: No more to tell of Damon's tender sighs, Or rising radiance of Aurora's eyes, For nobler themes demand a nobler strain, And purer language on th' ethereal plain.
Cease, gentle muse! the solemn gloom of night Now seals the fair creation from my sight.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

An Hymn to the Evening

Soon as the sun forsook the eastern main
The pealing thunder shook the heav'nly plain;
Majestic grandeur!  From the zephyr's wing,
Exhales the incense of the blooming spring.
Soft purl the streams, the birds renew their notes, And through the air their mingled music floats.
Through all the heav'ns what beauteous dies are spread! But the west glories in the deepest red: So may our breasts with ev'ry virtue glow, The living temples of our God below! Fill'd with the praise of him who gives the light, And draws the sable curtains of the night, Let placid slumbers sooth each weary mind, At morn to wake more heav'nly, more refin'd; So shall the labours of the day begin More pure, more guarded from the snares of sin.
Night's leaden sceptre seals my drowsy eyes, Then cease, my song, till fair Aurora rise.


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by Phillis Wheatley | |

An Hymn to the Morning

Attend my lays, ye ever honour'd nine,
Assist my labours, and my strains refine;
In smoothest numbers pour the notes along,
For bright Aurora now demands my song.
Aurora hail, and all the thousand dies, Which deck thy progress through the vaulted skies: The morn awakes, and wide extends her rays, On ev'ry leaf the gentle zephyr plays; Harmonious lays the feather'd race resume, Dart the bright eye, and shake the painted plume.
Ye shady groves, your verdant gloom display To shield your poet from the burning day: Calliope awake the sacred lyre, While thy fair sisters fan the pleasing fire: The bow'rs, the gales, the variegated skies In all their pleasures in my bosom rise.
See in the east th' illustrious king of day! His rising radiance drives the shades away-- But Oh! I feel his fervid beams too strong, And scarce begun, concludes th' abortive song.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To the Honourable T. H. Esq; on the Death of his Daughter

While deep you mourn beneath the cypress-shade
The hand of Death, and your dear daughter laid
In dust, whose absence gives your tears to flow,
And racks your bosom with incessant woe,
Let Recollection take a tender part,
Assuage the raging tortures of your heart,
Still the wild tempest of tumultuous grief,
And pour the heav'nly nectar of relief:
Suspend the sigh, dear Sir, and check the groan,
Divinely bright your daughter's Virtues shone:
How free from scornful pride her gentle mind,
Which ne'er its aid to indigence declin'd!
Expanding free, it sought the means to prove
Unfailing charity, unbounded love!

She unreluctant flies to see no more
Her dear-lov'd parents on earth's dusky shore:
Impatient heav'n's resplendent goal to gain,
She with swift progress cuts the azure plain,
Where grief subsides, where changes are no more,
And life's tumultuous billows cease to roar;
She leaves her earthly mansion for the skies,
Where new creations feast her wond'ring eyes.
To heav'n's high mandate cheerfully resign'd She mounts, and leaves the rolling globe behind; She, who late wish'd that Leonard might return, Has ceas'd to languish, and forgot to mourn; To the same high empyreal mansions come, She joins her spouse, and smiles upon the tomb: And thus I hear her from the realms above: "Lo! this the kingdom of celestial love! "Could ye, fond parents, see our present bliss, "How soon would you each sigh, each fear dismiss? "Amidst unutter'd pleasures whilst I play "In the fair sunshine of celestial day, "As far as grief affects an happy soul "So far doth grief my better mind controul, "To see on earth my aged parents mourn, "And secret wish for T-----! to return: "Let brighter scenes your ev'ning-hours employ: "Converse with heav'n, and taste the promis'd joy"


by Phillis Wheatley | |

On the Death of a young Lady of Five Years of Age

From dark abodes to fair etherial light
Th' enraptur'd innocent has wing'd her flight;
On the kind bosom of eternal love
She finds unknown beatitude above.
This known, ye parents, nor her loss deplore, She feels the iron hand of pain no more; The dispensations of unerring grace, Should turn your sorrows into grateful praise; Let then no tears for her henceforward flow, No more distress'd in our dark vale below, Her morning sun, which rose divinely bright, Was quickly mantled with the gloom of night; But hear in heav'n's blest bow'rs your Nancy fair, And learn to imitate her language there.
"Thou, Lord, whom I behold with glory crown'd, "By what sweet name, and in what tuneful sound "Wilt thou be prais'd? Seraphic pow'rs are faint "Infinite love and majesty to paint.
"To thee let all their graceful voices raise, "And saints and angels join their songs of praise.
" Perfect in bliss she from her heav'nly home Looks down, and smiling beckons you to come; Why then, fond parents, why these fruitless groans? Restrain your tears, and cease your plaintive moans.
Freed from a world of sin, and snares, and pain, Why would you wish your daughter back again? No--bow resign'd.
Let hope your grief control, And check the rising tumult of the soul.
Calm in the prosperous, and adverse day, Adore the God who gives and takes away; Eye him in all, his holy name revere, Upright your actions, and your hearts sincere, Till having sail'd through life's tempestuous sea, And from its rocks, and boist'rous billows free, Yourselves, safe landed on the blissful shore, Shall join your happy babe to part no more.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall

 THROUGH thickest glooms look back, immortal
shade,
On that confusion which thy death has made:
Or from Olympus' height look down, and see
A Town involv'd in grief bereft of thee.
Thy Lucy sees thee mingle with the dead, And rends the graceful tresses from her head, Wild in her woe, with grief unknown opprest Sigh follows sigh deep heaving from her breast.
Too quickly fled, ah! whither art thou gone? Ah! lost for ever to thy wife and son! The hapless child, thine only hope and heir, Clings round his mother's neck, and weeps his sorrows there.
The loss of thee on Tyler's soul returns, And Boston for her dear physician mourns.
When sickness call'd for Marshall's healing hand, With what compassion did his soul expand? In him we found the father and the friend: In life how lov'd! how honour'd in his end! And must not then our AEsculapius stay To bring his ling'ring infant into day? The babe unborn in the dark womb is tost, And seems in anguish for its father lost.
Gone is Apollo from his house of earth, But leaves the sweet memorials of his worth: The common parent, whom we all deplore, From yonder world unseen must come no more, Yet 'midst our woes immortal hopes attend The spouse, the sire, the universal friend.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

Isaiah LXIII

 Say, heav'nly muse, what king or mighty God,
That moves sublime from Idumea's road?
In Bosrah's dies, with martial glories join'd,
His purple vesture waves upon the wind.
Why thus enrob'd delights he to appear In the dread image of the Pow'r of war? Compres'd in wrath the swelling wine-press groan'd, It bled, and pour'd the gushing purple round.
"Mine was the act," th' Almighty Saviour said, And shook the dazzling glories of his head, "When all forsook I trod the press alone, "And conquer'd by omnipotence my own; "For man's release sustain'd the pond'rous load, "For man the wrath of an immortal God: "To execute th' Eternal's dread command "My soul I sacrific'd with willing hand; "Sinless I stood before the avenging frown, "Atoning thus for vices not my own.
" His eye the ample field of battle round Survey'd, but no created succours found; His own omnipotence sustain'd the right, His vengeance sunk the haughty foes in night; Beneath his feet the prostrate troops were spread, And round him lay the dying, and the dead.
Great God, what light'ning flashes from thine eyes? What pow'r withstands if thou indignant rise? Against thy Zion though her foes may rage, And all their cunning, all their strength engage, Yet she serenely on thy bosom lies, Smiles at their arts, and all their force defies.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

A Farewel To America to Mrs. S. W.

 I.
ADIEU, New-England's smiling meads, Adieu, the flow'ry plain: I leave thine op'ning charms, O spring, And tempt the roaring main.
II.
In vain for me the flow'rets rise, And boast their gaudy pride, While here beneath the northern skies I mourn for health deny'd.
III.
Celestial maid of rosy hue, O let me feel thy reign! I languish till thy face I view, Thy vanish'd joys regain.
IV.
Susanna mourns, nor can I bear To see the crystal show'r, Or mark the tender falling tear At sad departure's hour; V.
Not unregarding can I see Her soul with grief opprest: But let no sighs, no groans for me, Steal from her pensive breast.
VI.
In vain the feather'd warblers sing, In vain the garden blooms, And on the bosom of the spring Breathes out her sweet perfumes.
VII.
While for Britannia's distant shore We sweep the liquid plain, And with astonish'd eyes explore The wide-extended main.
VIII.
Lo! Health appears! celestial dame! Complacent and serene, With Hebe's mantle o'er her Frame, With soul-delighting mein.
IX.
To mark the vale where London lies With misty vapours crown'd, Which cloud Aurora's thousand dyes, And veil her charms around.
X.
Why, Phoebus, moves thy car so slow? So slow thy rising ray? Give us the famous town to view, Thou glorious king of day! XI.
For thee, Britannia, I resign New-England's smiling fields; To view again her charms divine, What joy the prospect yields! XII.
But thou! Temptation hence away, With all thy fatal train, Nor once seduce my soul away, By thine enchanting strain.
XIII.
Thrice happy they, whose heav'nly shield Secures their souls from harms, And fell Temptation on the field Of all its pow'r disarms!


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To a Lady on Her Coming to North-America

 Indulgent muse! my grov'ling mind inspire,
And fill my bosom with celestial fire.
See from Jamaica's fervid shore she moves, Like the fair mother of the blooming loves, When from above the Goddess with her hand Fans the soft breeze, and lights upon the land; Thus she on Neptune's wat'ry realm reclin'd Appear'd, and thus invites the ling'ring wind.
"Arise, ye winds, America explore, "Waft me, ye gales, from this malignant shore; "The Northern milder climes I long to greet, "There hope that health will my arrival meet.
" Soon as she spoke in my ideal view The winds assented, and the vessel flew.
Madam, your spouse bereft of wife and son, In the grove's dark recesses pours his moan; Each branch, wide-spreading to the ambient sky, Forgets its verdure, and submits to die.
From thence I turn, and leave the sultry plain, And swift pursue thy passage o'er the main: The ship arrives before the fav'ring wind, And makes the Philadelphian port assign'd, Thence I attend you to Bostonia's arms, Where gen'rous friendship ev'ry bosom warms: Thrice welcome here! may health revive again, Bloom on thy cheek, and bound in ev'ry vein! Then back return to gladden ev'ry heart, And give your spouse his soul's far dearer part, Receiv'd again with what a sweet surprise, The tear in transport starting from his eyes! While his attendant son with blooming grace Springs to his father's ever dear embrace.
With shouts of joy Jamaica's rocks resound, With shouts of joy the country rings around.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To a Gentleman on His Voyage to Great-Britain

 While others chant of gay Elysian scenes,
Of balmy zephyrs, and of flow'ry plains,
My song more happy speaks a greater name,
Feels higher motives and a nobler flame.
For thee, O R-----, the muse attunes her strings, And mounts sublime above inferior things.
I sing not now of green embow'ring woods, I sing not now the daughters of the floods, I sing not of the storms o'er ocean driv'n, And how they howl'd along the waste of heav'n.
But I to R----- would paint the British shore, And vast Atlantic, not untry'd before: Thy life impair'd commands thee to arise, Leave these bleak regions and inclement skies, Where chilling winds return the winter past, And nature shudders at the furious blast.
O thou stupendous, earth-enclosing main Exert thy wonders to the world again! If ere thy pow'r prolong'd the fleeting breath, Turn'd back the shafts, and mock'd the gates of death, If ere thine air dispens'd an healing pow'r, Or snatch'd the victim from the fatal hour, This equal case demands thine equal care, And equal wonders may this patient share.
But unavailing, frantic is the dream To hope thine aid without the aid of him Who gave thee birth and taught thee where to flow, And in thy waves his various blessings show.
May R----- return to view his native shore Replete with vigour not his own before, Then shall we see with pleasure and surprise, And own thy work, great Ruler of the skies!


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To Captain H-----d of the 65th Regiment

 Say, muse divine, can hostile scenes delight
The warrior's bosom in the fields of fight?
Lo! here the christian and the hero join
With mutual grace to form the man divine.
In H-----D see with pleasure and surprise, Where valour kindles, and where virtue lies: Go, hero brave, still grace the post of fame, And add new glories to thine honour'd name, Still to the field, and still to virtue true: Britannia glories in no son like you.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

A Rebus By I. B.

 I.
A BIRD delicious to the taste, On which an army once did feast, Sent by an hand unseen; A creature of the horned race, Which Britain's royal standards grace; A gem of vivid green; II.
A town of gaiety and sport, Where beaux and beauteous nymphs resort, And gallantry doth reign; A Dardan hero fam'd of old For youth and beauty, as we're told, And by a monarch slain; III.
A peer of popular applause, Who doth our violated laws, And grievances proclaim.
Th' initials show a vanquish'd town, That adds fresh glory and renown To old Britannia's fame.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To a Gentleman and Lady on the Death of the Ladys Brother and Sister

 On Death's domain intent I fix my eyes,
Where human nature in vast ruin lies,
With pensive mind I search the drear abode,
Where the great conqu'ror has his spoils bestow'd;
There there the offspring of six thousand years
In endless numbers to my view appears:
Whole kingdoms in his gloomy den are thrust,
And nations mix with their primeval dust:
Insatiate still he gluts the ample tomb;
His is the present, his the age to come
See here a brother, here a sister spread,
And a sweet daughter mingled with the dead.
But, Madam, let your grief be laid aside, And let the fountain of your tears be dry'd, In vain they flow to wet the dusty plain, Your sighs are wafted to the skies in vain, Your pains they witness, but they can no more, While Death reigns tyrant o'er this mortal shore.
The glowing stars and silver queen of light At last must perish in the gloom of night: Resign thy friends to that Almighty hand, Which gave them life, and bow to his command; Thine Avis give without a murm'ring heart, Though half thy soul be fated to depart.
To shining guards consign thine infant care To waft triumphant through the seas of air: Her soul enlarg'd to heav'nly pleasure springs, She feeds on truth and uncreated things.
Methinks I hear her in the realms above, And leaning forward with a filial love, Invite you there to share immortal bliss Unknown, untasted in a state like this.
With tow'ring hopes, and growing grace arise, And seek beatitude beyond the skies.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To the Rev. Dr. Thomas Amory

 To cultivate in ev'ry noble mind
Habitual grace, and sentiments refin'd,
Thus while you strive to mend the human heart,
Thus while the heav'nly precepts you impart,
O may each bosom catch the sacred fire,
And youthful minds to Virtue's throne aspire!
When God's eternal ways you set in sight,
And Virtue shines in all her native light,
In vain would Vice her works in night conceal,
For Wisdom's eye pervades the sable veil.
Artists may paint the sun's effulgent rays, But Amory's pen the brighter God displays: While his great works in Amory's pages shine, And while he proves his essence all divine, The Atheist sure no more can boast aloud Of chance, or nature, and exclude the God; As if the clay without the potter's aid Should rise in various forms, and shapes self-made, Or worlds above with orb o'er orb profound Self-mov'd could run the everlasting round.
It cannot be--unerring Wisdom guides With eye propitious, and o'er all presides.
Still prosper, Amory! still may'st thou receive The warmest blessings which a muse can give, And when this transitory state is o'er, When kingdoms fall, and fleeting Fame's no more, May Amory triumph in immortal fame, A nobler title, and superior name!


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To A Lady On The Death Of The Three Relations

 WE trace the pow'r of Death from tomb to tomb,
And his are all the ages yet to come.
'Tis his to call the planets from on high, To blacken Phoebus, and dissolve the sky; His too, when all in his dark realms are hurl'd, From its firm base to shake the solid world; His fatal sceptre rules the spacious whole, And trembling nature rocks from pole to pole.
Awful he moves, and wide his wings are spread: Behold thy brother number'd with the dead! From bondage freed, the exulting spirit flies Beyond Olympus, and these starry skies.
Lost in our woe for thee, blest shade, we mourn In vain; to earth thou never must return.
Thy sisters too, fair mourner, feel the dart Of Death, and with fresh torture rend thine heart.
Weep not for them, and leave the world behind.
As a young plant by hurricanes up torn, So near its parent lies the newly born-- But 'midst the bright ehtereal train behold It shines superior on a throne of gold: Then, mourner, cease; let hope thy tears restrain, Smile on the tomb, and sooth the raging pain.
On yon blest regions fix thy longing view, Mindless of sublunary scenes below; Ascend the sacred mount, in thought arise, And seek substantial and immortal joys; Where hope receives, where faith to vision springs, And raptur'd seraphs tune th' immortal strings To strains extatic.
Thou the chorus join, And to thy father tune the praise divine.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To a Lady on Her Remarkable Preservation

 Though thou did'st hear the tempest from afar,
And felt'st the horrors of the wat'ry war,
To me unknown, yet on this peaceful shore
Methinks I hear the storm tumultuous roar,
And how stern Boreas with impetuous hand
Compell'd they Nereids to usurp the land.
Reluctant rose the daughters of the main, And slow ascending glided o'er the plain, Till Æolus in his rapid chariot drove In gloomy grandeur from the vault above: Furious he comes.
His winged sons obey Their frantic sire, and madden all the sea.
The billows rave, the wind's fierce tyrant roars, And with his thund'ring terrors shakes the shores: Broken by waves the vessel's frame is rent, And strows with planks the wat'ry element.
But thee, Maria, a kind Nereid's shield Preserv'd from sinking, and thy form upheld: And sure some heav'nly oracle design'd At that dread crisis to instruct thy mind Things of eternal consequence to weigh, And to thine heart just feelings to convey Of things above, and of the future doom, And what the births of the dread world to come.
From tossing seas I welcome thee to land.
"Resign her, Nereid," 'twas thy God's command.
Thy spouse late buried, as thy fears conceiv'd, Again returns, thy fears are all reliev'd: Thy daughter blooming with superior grace Again thou see'st, again thine arms embrace; O come, and joyful show thy spouse his heir, And what the blessings of maternal care!


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To A Clergyman On The Death Of His Lady

 WHERE contemplation finds her sacred spring,
Where heav'nly music makes the arches ring,
Where virtue reigns unsully'd and divine,
Where wisdom thron'd, and all the graces shine,
There sits thy spouse amidst the radiant throng,
While praise eternal warbles from her tongue;
There choirs angelic shout her welcome round,
With perfect bliss, and peerless glory crown'd.
While thy dear mate, to flesh no more confin'd, Exults a blest, an heav n-ascended mind, Say in thy breast shall floods of sorrow rise? Say shall its torrents overwhelm thine eyes? Amid the seats of heav'n a place is free, And angels open their bright ranks for thee; For thee they wait, and with expectant eye Thy spouse leans downward from th' empyreal sky: "O come away," her longing spirit cries, "And share with me the raptures of the skies.
"Our bliss divine to mortals is unknown; "Immortal life and glory are our own.
"There too may the dear pledges of our love "Arrive, and taste with us the joys above; "Attune the harp to more than mortal lays, "And join with us the tribute of their praise "To him, who dy'd stern justice to stone, "And make eternal glory all our own.
"He in his death slew ours, and, as he rose, "He crush'd the dire dominion of our foes; "Vain were their hopes to put the God to flight, "Chain us to hell, and bar the gates of light.
" She spoke, and turn'd from mortal scenes her eyes, Which beam'd celestial radiance o'er the skies.
Then thou dear man, no more with grief retire, Let grief no longer damp devotion's fire, But rise sublime, to equal bliss aspire, Thy sighs no more be wafted by the wind, No more complain, but be to heav'n resign'd 'Twas thine t' unfold the oracles divine, To sooth our woes the task was also thine; Now sorrow is incumbent on thy heart, Permit the muse a cordial to impart; Who can to thee their tend'rest aid refuse? To dry thy tears how longs the heav'nly muse!


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To a Lady and Her Children

 O'erwhelming sorrow now demands my song:
From death the overwhelming sorrow sprung.
What flowing tears? What hearts with grief opprest? What sighs on sighs heave the fond parent's breast? The brother weeps, the hapless sisters join Th' increasing woe, and swell the crystal brine; The poor, who once his gen'rous bounty fed, Droop, and bewail their benefactor dead.
In death the friend, the kind companion lies, And in one death what various comfort dies! Th' unhappy mother sees the sanguine rill Forget to flow, and nature's wheels stand still, But see from earth his spirit far remov'd, And know no grief recalls your best-belov'd: He, upon pinions swifter than the wind, Has left mortality's sad scenes behind For joys to this terrestrial state unknown, And glories richer than the monarch's crown.
Of virtue's steady course the prize behold! What blissful wonders to his mind unfold! But of celestial joys I sing in vain: Attempt not, muse, the too advent'rous strain.
No more in briny show'rs, ye friends around, Or bathe his clay, or waste them on the ground: Still do you weep, still wish for his return? How cruel thus to wish, and thus to mourn? No more for him the streams of sorrow pour, But haste to join him on the heav'nly shore, On harps of gold to tune immortal lays, And to your God immortal anthems raise.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

Ode To Neptune

 On Mrs.
W-----'s Voyage to England.
I.
WHILE raging tempests shake the shore, While AElus' thunders round us roar, And sweep impetuous o'er the plain Be still, O tyrant of the main; Nor let thy brow contracted frowns betray, While my Susanna skims the wat'ry way.
II.
The Pow'r propitious hears the lay, The blue-ey'd daughters of the sea With sweeter cadence glide along, And Thames responsive joins the song.
Pleas'd with their notes Sol sheds benign his ray, And double radiance decks the face of day.
III.
To court thee to Britannia's arms Serene the climes and mild the sky, Her region boasts unnumber'd charms, Thy welcome smiles in ev'ry eye.
Thy promise, Neptune keep, record my pray'r, Not give my wishes to the empty air.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To The Kings Most Excellent Majesty

 YOUR subjects hope, dread Sire--
The crown upon your brows may flourish long,
And that your arm may in your God be strong!
O may your sceptre num'rous nations sway,
And all with love and readiness obey!
But how shall we the British king reward!
Rule thou in peace, our father, and our lord!
Midst the remembrance of thy favours past,
The meanest peasants most admire the last*
May George, beloved by all the nations round,
Live with heav'ns choicest constant blessings crown'd!
Great God, direct, and guard him from on high,
And from his head let ev'ry evil fly!
And may each clime with equal gladness see
A monarch's smile can set his subjects free!

* The Repeal of the Stamp Act.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

To The Right Honourable William Earl Of Dartmouth His Majestys Principal Secretary Of The State For North-America

 HAIL, happy day, when, smiling like the morn,
Fair Freedom rose New-England to adorn:
The northern clime beneath her genial ray,
Dartmouth, congratulates thy blissful sway:
Elate with hope her race no longer mourns,
Each soul expands, each grateful bosom burns,
While in thine hand with pleasure we behold
The silken reins, and Freedom's charms unfold.
Long lost to realms beneath the northern skies She shines supreme, while hated faction dies: Soon as appear'd the Goddess long desir'd, Sick at the view, she languish'd and expir'd; Thus from the splendors of the morning light The owl in sadness seeks the caves of night.
No more, America, in mournful strain Of wrongs, and grievance unredress'd complain, No longer shalt thou dread the iron chain, Which wanton Tyranny with lawless hand Had made, and with it meant t' enslave the land.
Should you, my lord, while you peruse my song, Wonder from whence my love of Freedom sprung, Whence flow these wishes for the common good, By feeling hearts alone best understood, I, young in life, by seeming cruel fate Was snatch'd from Afric's fancy'd happy seat: What pangs excruciating must molest, What sorrows labour in my parent's breast? Steel'd was that soul and by no misery mov'd That from a father seiz'd his babe belov'd: Such, such my case.
And can I then but pray Others may never feel tyrannic sway? For favours past, great Sir, our thanks are due, And thee we ask thy favours to renew, Since in thy pow'r, as in thy will before, To sooth the griefs, which thou did'st once deplore.
May heav'nly grace the sacred sanction give To all thy works, and thou for ever live Not only on the wings of fleeting Fame, Though praise immortal crowns the patriot's name, But to conduct to heav'ns refulgent fane, May fiery coursers sweep th' ethereal plain, And bear thee upwards to that blest abode, Where, like the prophet, thou shalt find thy God.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

On The Death Of J. C. An Infant

 NO more the flow'ry scenes of pleasure rife,
Nor charming prospects greet the mental eyes,
No more with joy we view that lovely face
Smiling, disportive, flush'd with ev'ry grace.
The tear of sorrow flows from ev'ry eye, Groans answer groans, and sighs to sighs reply; What sudden pangs shot thro' each aching heart, When, Death, thy messenger dispatch'd his dart? Thy dread attendants, all-destroying Pow'r, Hurried the infant to his mortal hour.
Could'st thou unpitying close those radiant eyes? Or fail'd his artless beauties to surprise? Could not his innocence thy stroke controul, Thy purpose shake, and soften all thy soul? The blooming babe, with shades of Death o'er- spread, No more shall smile, no more shall raise its head, But, like a branch that from the tree is torn, Falls prostrate, wither'd, languid, and forlorn.
"Where flies my James?" 'tis thus I seem to hear The parent ask, "Some angel tell me where "He wings his passage thro' the yielding air?" Methinks a cherub bending from the skies Observes the question, and serene replies, "In heav'ns high palaces your babe appears: "Prepare to meet him, and dismiss your tears.
" Shall not th' intelligence your grief restrain, And turn the mournful to the cheerful strain? Cease your complaints, suspend each rising sigh, Cease to accuse the Ruler of the sky.
Parents, no more indulge the falling tear: Let Faith to heav'n's refulgent domes repair, There see your infant, like a seraph glow: What charms celestial in his numbers flow Melodious, while the foul-enchanting strain Dwells on his tongue, and fills th' ethereal plain? Enough--for ever cease your murm'ring breath; Not as a foe, but friend converse with Death, Since to the port of happiness unknown He brought that treasure which you call your own.
The gift of heav'n intrusted to your hand Cheerful resign at the divine command: Not at your bar must sov'reign Wisdom stand.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

On the Death of a Young Gentleman

 Who taught thee conflict with the pow'rs of night,
To vanquish satan in the fields of light?
Who strung thy feeble arms with might unknown,
How great thy conquest, and how bright thy crown!
War with each princedom, throne, and pow'r is o'er,
The scene is ended to return no more.
O could my muse thy seat on high behold, How deckt with laurel, how enrich'd with gold! O could she hear what praise thine harp employs, How sweet thine anthems, how divine thy joys! What heav'nly grandeur should exalt her strain! What holy raptures in her numbers reign! To sooth the troubles of the mind to peace, To still the tumult of life's tossing seas, To ease the anguish of the parents heart, What shall my sympathizing verse impart? Where is the balm to heal so deep a wound? Where shall a sov'reign remedy be found? Look, gracious Spirit, from thine heav'nly bow'r, And thy full joys into their bosoms pour; The raging tempest of their grief control, And spread the dawn of glory through the soul, To eye the path the saint departed trod, And trace him to the bosom of his God.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

On Virtue

 O Thou bright jewel in my aim I strive
To comprehend thee.
Thine own words declare Wisdom is higher than a fool can reach.
I cease to wonder, and no more attempt Thine height t' explore, or fathom thy profound.
But, O my soul, sink not into despair, Virtue is near thee, and with gentle hand Would now embrace thee, hovers o'er thine head.
Fain would the heav'n-born soul with her converse, Then seek, then court her for her promis'd bliss.
Auspicious queen, thine heav'nly pinions spread, And lead celestial Chastity along; Lo! now her sacred retinue descends, Array'd in glory from the orbs above.
Attend me, Virtue, thro' my youthful years! O leave me not to the false joys of time! But guide my steps to endless life and bliss.
Greatness, or Goodness, say what I shall call thee, To give me an higher appellation still, Teach me a better strain, a nobler lay, O thou, enthron'd with Cherubs in the realms of day.