18th Century: 1773
African American Literature 1619-1926
Phyllis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784)
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, thy heaven'ly peinions spread,
And lead celestial Chastity along;
Lo! now her sacred retinue descends,
Array'd in gloru from the orbs above.
Attend e, Virtue, thro my youthful tears!
O leave me not to the false joys of time!
But guide my steps to endless life and bliss.
Greatness, or Goodness, say what shall I call thee,
To give an appelation still,
Teach e a better strain, a nobler lay,
O Thou, enthron'd with Cherubs in the realms of day!
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 redemptio neither sought or knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their color is a diaboic die."
Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain
May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.