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Best Famous Phillis Wheatley Poems

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Written 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.

Written 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.

Written 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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Written 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.

Written 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.

Written 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"

Written by Phillis Wheatley |

On Imagination

 Thy various works, imperial queen, we see,
 How bright their forms! how deck'd with pomp by thee!
Thy wond'rous acts in beauteous order stand,
And all attest how potent is thine hand.
From Helicon's refulgent heights attend, Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend: To tell her glories with a faithful tongue, Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.
Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies, Till some lov'd object strikes her wand'ring eyes, Whose silken fetters all the senses bind, And soft captivity involves the mind.
Imagination! who can sing thy force? Or who describe the swiftness of thy course? Soaring through air to find the bright abode, Th' empyreal palace of the thund'ring God, We on thy pinions can surpass the wind, And leave the rolling universe behind: >From star to star the mental optics rove, Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
There in one view we grasp the mighty whole, Or with new worlds amaze th' unbounded soul.
Though Winter frowns to Fancy's raptur'd eyes The fields may flourish, and gay scenes arise; The frozen deeps may break their iron bands, And bid their waters murmur o'er the sands.
Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign, And with her flow'ry riches deck the plain; Sylvanus may diffuse his honours round, And all the forest may with leaves be crown'd: Show'rs may descend, and dews their gems disclose, And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose.
Such is thy pow'r, nor are thine orders vain, O thou the leader of the mental train: In full perfection all thy works are wrought, And thine the sceptre o'er the realms of thought.
Before thy throne the subject-passions bow, Of subject-passions sov'reign ruler thou; At thy command joy rushes on the heart, And through the glowing veins the spirits dart.
Fancy might now her silken pinions try To rise from earth, and sweep th' expanse on high: >From Tithon's bed now might Aurora rise, Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies, While a pure stream of light o'erflows the skies.
The monarch of the day I might behold, And all the mountains tipt with radiant gold, But I reluctant leave the pleasing views, Which Fancy dresses to delight the Muse; Winter austere forbids me to aspire, And northern tempests damp the rising fire; They chill the tides of Fancy's flowing sea, Cease then, my song, cease the unequal lay.

Written by Phillis Wheatley |

On Being Brought from Africa to America

 'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye, "Their colour is a diabolic die.
" Remember, Christians, Negro's, black as Cain, May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.

Written 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.

Written by Phillis Wheatley |

A Farewel To America to Mrs. S. W.

ADIEU, New-England's smiling meads, Adieu, the flow'ry plain: I leave thine op'ning charms, O spring, And tempt the roaring main.
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.
Celestial maid of rosy hue, O let me feel thy reign! I languish till thy face I view, Thy vanish'd joys regain.
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.
In vain the feather'd warblers sing, In vain the garden blooms, And on the bosom of the spring Breathes out her sweet perfumes.
While for Britannia's distant shore We sweep the liquid plain, And with astonish'd eyes explore The wide-extended main.
Lo! Health appears! celestial dame! Complacent and serene, With Hebe's mantle o'er her Frame, With soul-delighting mein.
To mark the vale where London lies With misty vapours crown'd, Which cloud Aurora's thousand dyes, And veil her charms around.
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.
Thrice happy they, whose heav'nly shield Secures their souls from harms, And fell Temptation on the field Of all its pow'r disarms!

Written by Phillis Wheatley |

An Hymn To Humanity (To S.P.G. Esp)

 O! for this dark terrestrial ball
Forsakes his azure-paved hall
 A prince of heav'nly birth!
Divine Humanity behold,
What wonders rise, what charms unfold
 At his descent to earth!

The bosoms of the great and good With wonder and delight he view'd, And fix'd his empire there: Him, close compressing to his breast, The sire of gods and men address'd, "My son, my heav'nly fair! III.
"Descend to earth, there place thy throne; "To succour man's afflicted son "Each human heart inspire: "To act in bounties unconfin'd "Enlarge the close contracted mind, "And fill it with thy fire.
" IV.
Quick as the word, with swift career He wings his course from star to star, And leaves the bright abode.
The Virtue did his charms impart; Their G——! then thy raptur'd heart Perceiv'd the rushing God: V.
For when thy pitying eye did see The languid muse in low degree, Then, then at thy desire Descended the celestial nine; O'er me methought they deign'd to shine, And deign'd to string my lyre.
Can Afric's muse forgetful prove? Or can such friendship fail to move A tender human heart? Immortal Friendship laurel-crown'd The smiling Graces all surround With ev'ry heav'nly Art.

Written by Phillis Wheatley |

To The University Of Cambridge In New-England

 WHILE an intrinsic ardor prompts to write,
The muses promise to assist my pen;
'Twas not long since I left my native shore
The land of errors, and Egyptain gloom:
Father of mercy, 'twas thy gracious hand
Brought me in safety from those dark abodes.
Students, to you 'tis giv'n to scan the heights Above, to traverse the ethereal space, And mark the systems of revolving worlds.
Still more, ye sons of science ye receive The blissful news by messengers from heav'n, How Jesus' blood for your redemption flows.
See him with hands out-stretcht upon the cross; Immense compassion in his bosom glows; He hears revilers, nor resents their scorn: What matchless mercy in the Son of God! When the whole human race by sin had fall'n, He deign'd to die that they might rise again, And share with him in the sublimest skies, Life without death, and glory without end.
Improve your privileges while they stay, Ye pupils, and each hour redeem, that bears Or good or bad report of you to heav'n.
Let sin, that baneful evil to the soul, By you be shun'd, nor once remit your guard; Suppress the deadly serpent in its egg.
Ye blooming plants of human race divine, An Ethiop tells you 'tis your greatest foe; Its transient sweetness turns to endless pain, And in immense perdition sinks the soul.

Written by Phillis Wheatley |

On The Death Of Rev. Mr. George Whitefield

 HAIL, happy saint, on thine immortal throne,
Possest of glory, life, and bliss unknown;
We hear no more the music of thy tongue,
Thy wonted auditories cease to throng.
Thy sermons in unequall'd accents flow'd, And ev'ry bosom with devotion glow'd; Thou didst in strains of eloquence refin'd Inflame the heart, and captivate the mind.
Unhappy we the setting sun deplore, So glorious once, but ah! it shines no more.
Behold the prophet in his tow'ring flight! He leaves the earth for heav'n's unmeasur'd height, And worlds unknown receive him from our sight.
There Whitefield wings with rapid course his way, And sails to Zion through vast seas of day.
Thy pray'rs, great saint, and thine incessant cries Have pierc'd the bosom of thy native skies.
Thou moon hast seen, and all the stars of light, How he has wrestled with his God by night.
He pray'd that grace in ev'ry heart might dwell, He long'd to see America excell; He charg'd its youth that ev'ry grace divine Should with full lustre in their conduct shine; That Saviour, which his soul did first receive, The greatest gift that ev'n a God can give, He freely offer'd to the num'rous throng, That on his lips with list'ning pleasure hung.
"Take him, ye wretched, for your only good, "Take him ye starving sinners, for your food; "Ye thirsty, come to this life-giving stream, "Ye preachers, take him for your joyful theme; "Take him my dear Americans, he said, "Be your complaints on his kind bosom laid: "Take him, ye Africans, he longs for you, "Impartial Saviour is his title due: "Wash'd in the fountain of redeeming blood, "You shall be sons, and kings, and priests to God.
" Great Countess,* we Americans revere Thy name, and mingle in thy grief sincere; New England deeply feels, the Orphans mourn, Their more than father will no more return.
But, though arrested by the hand of death, Whitefield no more exerts his lab'ring breath, Yet let us view him in th' eternal skies, Let ev'ry heart to this bright vision rise; While the tomb safe retains its sacred trust, Till life divine re-animates his dust.
*The Countess of Huntingdon, to whom Mr.
Whitefield was Chaplain.

Written 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.

Written by Phillis Wheatley |

One Being Brought From Africa To America

 'TWAS mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought now knew,
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
'Their colour is a diabolic die.
' Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain, May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.