Best Famous Phillis Wheatley Poems

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Written by Phillis Wheatley | Create an image from this poem

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 | Create an image from this poem

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.
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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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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 | Create an image from this poem

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.
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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.
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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.
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Thoughts On The Works Of Providence

 A R I S E, my soul, on wings enraptur'd, rise
To praise the monarch of the earth and skies,
Whose goodness and benificence appear
As round its centre moves the rolling year,
Or when the morning glows with rosy charms,
Or the sun slumbers in the ocean's arms:
Of light divine be a rich portion lent
To guide my soul, and favour my intend.
Celestial muse, my arduous flight sustain And raise my mind to a seraphic strain! Ador'd for ever be the God unseen, Which round the sun revolves this vast machine, Though to his eye its mass a point appears: Ador'd the God that whirls surrounding spheres, Which first ordain'd that mighty Sol should reign The peerless monarch of th' ethereal train: Of miles twice forty millions is his height, And yet his radiance dazzles mortal sight So far beneath--from him th' extended earth Vigour derives, and ev'ry flow'ry birth: Vast through her orb she moves with easy grace Around her Phoebus in unbounded space; True to her course th' impetuous storm derides, Triumphant o'er the winds, and surging tides.
Almighty, in these wond'rous works of thine, What Pow'r, what Wisdom, and what Goodness shine! And are thy wonders, Lord, by men explor'd, And yet creating glory unador'd! Creation smiles in various beauty gay, While day to night, and night succeeds to day: That Wisdom, which attends Jehovah's ways, Shines most conspicuous in the solar rays: Without them, destitute of heat and light, This world would be the reign of endless night: In their excess how would our race complain, Abhorring life! how hate its length'ned chain! From air adust what num'rous ills would rise? What dire contagion taint the burning skies? What pestilential vapours, fraught with death, Would rise, and overspread the lands beneath? Hail, smiling morn, that from the orient main Ascending dost adorn the heav'nly plain! So rich, so various are thy beauteous dies, That spread through all the circuit of the skies, That, full of thee, my soul in rapture soars, And thy great God, the cause of all adores.
O'er beings infinite his love extends, His Wisdom rules them, and his Pow'r defends.
When tasks diurnal tire the human frame, The spirits faint, and dim the vital flame, Then too that ever active bounty shines, Which not infinity of space confines.
The sable veil, that Night in silence draws, Conceals effects, but shows th' Almighty Cause, Night seals in sleep the wide creation fair, And all is peaceful but the brow of care.
Again, gay Phoebus, as the day before, Wakes ev'ry eye, but what shall wake no more; Again the face of nature is renew'd, Which still appears harmonious, fair, and good.
May grateful strains salute the smiling morn, Before its beams the eastern hills adorn! Shall day to day, and night to night conspire To show the goodness of the Almighty Sire? This mental voice shall man regardless hear, And never, never raise the filial pray'r? To-day, O hearken, nor your folly mourn For time mispent, that never will return.
But see the sons of vegetation rise, And spread their leafy banners to the skies.
All-wise Almighty Providence we trace In trees, and plants, and all the flow'ry race; As clear as in the nobler frame of man, All lovely copies of the Maker's plan.
The pow'r the same that forms a ray of light, That call d creation from eternal night.
"Let there be light," he said: from his profound Old Chaos heard, and trembled at the sound: Swift as the word, inspir'd by pow'r divine, Behold the light around its Maker shine, The first fair product of th' omnific God, And now through all his works diffus'd abroad.
As reason's pow'rs by day our God disclose, So we may trace him in the night's repose: Say what is sleep? and dreams how passing strange! When action ceases, and ideas range Licentious and unbounded o'er the plains, Where Fancy's queen in giddy triumph reigns.
Hear in soft strains the dreaming lover sigh To a kind fair, or rave in jealousy; On pleasure now, and now on vengeance bent, The lab'ring passions struggle for a vent.
What pow'r, O man! thy reason then restores, So long suspended in nocturnal hours? What secret hand returns the mental train, And gives improv'd thine active pow'rs again? From thee, O man, what gratitude should rise! And, when from balmy sleep thou op'st thine eyes, Let thy first thoughts be praises to the skies.
How merciful our God who thus imparts O'erflowing tides of joy to human hearts, When wants and woes might be our righteous lot, Our God forgetting, by our God forgot! Among the mental pow'rs a question rose, "What most the image of th' Eternal shows?" When thus to Reason (so let Fancy rove) Her great companion spoke immortal Love.
"Say, mighty pow'r, how long shall strife prevail, "And with its murmurs load the whisp'ring gale? "Refer the cause to Recollection's shrine, "Who loud proclaims my origin divine, "The cause whence heav'n and earth began to be, "And is not man immortaliz'd by me? "Reason let this most causeless strife subside.
" Thus Love pronounc'd, and Reason thus reply'd.
"Thy birth, coelestial queen! 'tis mine to own, "In thee resplendent is the Godhead shown; "Thy words persuade, my soul enraptur'd feels "Resistless beauty which thy smile reveals.
" Ardent she spoke, and, kindling at her charms, She clasp'd the blooming goddess in her arms.
Infinite Love where'er we turn our eyes Appears: this ev'ry creature's wants supplies; This most is heard in Nature's constant voice, This makes the morn, and this the eve rejoice; This bids the fost'ring rains and dews descend To nourish all, to serve one gen'ral end, The good of man: yet man ungrateful pays But little homage, and but little praise.
To him, whose works arry'd with mercy shine, What songs should rise, how constant, how divine!
Written by Phillis Wheatley | Create an image from this poem

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.
Written by Phillis Wheatley | Create an image from this poem

Goliath Of Gath

 SAMUEL, Chap.
YE martial pow'rs, and all ye tuneful nine, Inspire my song, and aid my high design.
The dreadful scenes and toils of war I write, The ardent warriors, and the fields of fight: You best remember, and you best can sing The acts of heroes to the vocal string: Resume the lays with which your sacred lyre, Did then the poet and the sage inspire.
Now front to front the armies were display'd, Here Israel rang'd, and there the foes array'd; The hosts on two opposing mountains stood, Thick as the foliage of the waving wood; Between them an extensive valley lay, O'er which the gleaming armour pour'd the day, When from the camp of the Philistine foes, Dreadful to view, a mighty warrior rose; In the dire deeds of bleeding battle skill'd, The monster stalks the terror of the field.
From Gath he sprung, Goliath was his name, Of fierce deportment, and gigantic frame: A brazen helmet on his head was plac'd, A coat of mail his form terrific grac'd, The greaves his legs, the targe his shoulders prest: Dreadful in arms high-tow'ring o'er the rest A spear he proudly wav'd, whose iron head, Strange to relate, six hundred shekels weigh'd; He strode along, and shook the ample field, While Phoebus blaz'd refulgent on his shield: Through Jacob's race a chilling horror ran, When thus the huge, enormous chief began: "Say, what the cause that in this proud array "You set your battle in the face of day? "One hero find in all your vaunting train, "Then see who loses, and who wins the plain; "For he who wins, in triumph may demand "Perpetual service from the vanquish'd land: "Your armies I defy, your force despise, "By far inferior in Philistia's eyes: "Produce a man, and let us try the fight, "Decide the contest, and the victor's right.
" Thus challeng'd he: all Israel stood amaz'd, And ev'ry chief in consternation gaz'd; But Jesse's son in youthful bloom appears, And warlike courage far beyond his years: He left the folds, he left the flow'ry meads, And soft recesses of the sylvan shades.
Now Israel's monarch, and his troops arise, With peals of shouts ascending to the skies; In Elah's vale the scene of combat lies.
When the fair morning blush'd with orient red, What David's fire enjoin'd the son obey'd, And swift of foot towards the trench he came, Where glow'd each bosom with the martial flame.
He leaves his carriage to another's care, And runs to greet his brethren of the war.
While yet they spake the giant-chief arose, Repeats the challenge, and insults his foes: Struck with the sound, and trembling at the view, Affrighted Israel from its post withdrew.
"Observe ye this tremendous foe, they cry'd, "Who in proud vaunts our armies hath defy'd: "Whoever lays him prostrate on the plain, "Freedom in Israel for his house shall gain; "And on him wealth unknown the king will pour, "And give his royal daughter for his dow'r.
" Then Jesse's youngest hope: "My brethren say, "What shall be done for him who takes away "Reproach from Jacob, who destroys the chief.
"And puts a period to his country's grief.
"He vaunts the honours of his arms abroad, "And scorns the armies of the living God.
" Thus spoke the youth, th' attentive people ey'd The wond'rous hero, and again reply'd: "Such the rewards our monarch will bestow, "On him who conquers, and destroys his foe.
" Eliab heard, and kindled into ire To hear his shepherd brother thus inquire, And thus begun: "What errand brought thee? say "Who keeps thy flock? or does it go astray? "I know the base ambition of thine heart, "But back in safety from the field depart.
" Eliab thus to Jesse's youngest heir, Express'd his wrath in accents most severe.
When to his brother mildly he reply'd.
"What have I done? or what the cause to chide? The words were told before the king, who sent For the young hero to his royal tent: Before the monarch dauntless he began, "For this Philistine fail no heart of man: "I'll take the vale, and with the giant fight: "I dread not all his boasts, nor all his might.
" When thus the king: "Dar'st thou a stripling go, "And venture combat with so great a foe? "Who all his days has been inur'd to fight, "And made its deeds his study and delight: "Battles and bloodshed brought the monster forth, "And clouds and whirlwinds usher'd in his birth.
" When David thus: "I kept the fleecy care, "And out there rush'd a lion and a bear; "A tender lamb the hungry lion took, "And with no other weapon than my crook "Bold I pursu'd, and chas d him o'er the field, "The prey deliver'd, and the felon kill'd: "As thus the lion and the bear I slew, "So shall Goliath fall, and all his crew: "The God, who sav'd me from these beasts of prey, "By me this monster in the dust shall lay.
" So David spoke.
The wond'ring king reply'd; "Go thou with heav'n and victory on thy side: "This coat of mail, this sword gird on," he said, And plac'd a mighty helmet on his head: The coat, the sword, the helm he laid aside, Nor chose to venture with those arms untry'd, Then took his staff, and to the neighb'ring brook Instant he ran, and thence five pebbles took.
Mean time descended to Philistia's son A radiant cherub, and he thus begun: "Goliath, well thou know'st thou hast defy'd "Yon Hebrew armies, and their God deny'd: "Rebellious wretch! audacious worm! forbear, "Nor tempt the vengeance of their God too far: "Them, who with his Omnipotence contend, "No eye shall pity, and no arm defend: "Proud as thou art, in short liv'd glory great, "I come to tell thee thine approaching fate.
"Regard my words.
The Judge of all the gods, "Beneath whose steps the tow'ring mountain nods, "Will give thine armies to the savage brood, "That cut the liquid air, or range the wood.
"Thee too a well-aim'd pebble shall destroy, "And thou shalt perish by a beardless boy: "Such is the mandate from the realms above, "And should I try the vengeance to remove, "Myself a rebel to my king would prove.
"Goliath say, shall grace to him be shown, "Who dares heav'ns Monarch, and insults his throne?" "Your words are lost on me," the giant cries, While fear and wrath contended in his eyes, When thus the messenger from heav'n replies: "Provoke no more Jehovah's awful hand "To hurl its vengeance on thy guilty land: "He grasps the thunder, and, he wings the storm, "Servants their sov'reign's orders to perform.
" The angel spoke, and turn'd his eyes away, Adding new radiance to the rising day.
Now David comes: the fatal stones demand His left, the staff engag'd his better hand: The giant mov'd, and from his tow'ring height Survey'd the stripling, and disdain'd the fight, And thus began: "Am I a dog with thee? "Bring'st thou no armour, but a staff to me? "The gods on thee their vollied curses pour, "And beasts and birds of prey thy flesh devour.
" David undaunted thus, "Thy spear and shield "Shall no protection to thy body yield: "Jehovah's name------no other arms I bear, "I ask no other in this glorious war.
"To-day the Lord of Hosts to me will give "Vict'ry, to-day thy doom thou shalt receive; "The fate you threaten shall your own become, "And beasts shall be your animated tomb, "That all the earth's inhabitants may know "That there's a God, who governs all below: "This great assembly too shall witness stand, "That needs nor sword, nor spear, th' Almighty's hand: "The battle his, the conquest he bestows, "And to our pow'r consigns our hated foes.
" Thus David spoke; Goliath heard and came To meet the hero in the field of fame.
Ah! fatal meeting to thy troops and thee, But thou wast deaf to the divine decree; Young David meets thee, meets thee not in vain; 'Tis thine to perish on th' ensanguin'd plain.
And now the youth the forceful pebble slung Philistia trembled as it whizz'd along: In his dread forehead, where the helmet ends, Just o'er the brows the well-aim'd stone descends, It pierc'd the skull, and shatter'd all the brain, Prone on his face he tumbled to the plain: Goliath's fall no smaller terror yields Than riving thunders in aerial fields: The soul still ling'red in its lov'd abode, Till conq'ring David o'er the giant strode: Goliath's sword then laid its master dead, And from the body hew'd the ghastly head; The blood in gushing torrents drench'd the plains, The soul found passage through the spouting veins.
And now aloud th' illustrious victor said, "Where are your boastings now your champion's "dead?" Scarce had he spoke, when the Philistines fled: But fled in vain; the conqu'ror swift pursu'd: What scenes of slaughter! and what seas of blood! There Saul thy thousands grasp'd th' impurpled sand In pangs of death the conquest of thine hand; And David there were thy ten thousands laid: Thus Israel's damsels musically play'd.
Near Gath and Edron many an hero lay, Breath'd out their souls, and curs'd the light of day: Their fury, quench'd by death, no longer burns, And David with Goliath's head returns, To Salem brought, but in his tent he plac'd The load of armour which the giant grac'd.
His monarch saw him coming from the war, And thus demanded of the son of Ner.
"Say, who is this amazing youth?" he cry'd, When thus the leader of the host reply'd; "As lives thy soul I know not whence he sprung, "So great in prowess though in years so young:" "Inquire whose son is he," the sov'reign said, "Before whose conq'ring arm Philistia fled.
" Before the king behold the stripling stand, Goliath's head depending from his hand: To him the king: "Say of what martial line "Art thou, young hero, and what sire was thine?" He humbly thus; "The son of Jesse I: "I came the glories of the field to try.
"Small is my tribe, but valiant in the fight; "Small is my city, but thy royal right.
" "Then take the promis'd gifts," the monarch cry'd, Conferring riches and the royal bride: "Knit to my soul for ever thou remain "With me, nor quit my regal roof again.