Doesn't it suck that us artists are stuck in these dark times of racism? He deserted Phillis after their third child was born. It's important to note the rhyme and meter in the poem. Revolutionary Boston Wheatley lived in the middle of the passionate controversies of the times, herself a celebrated cause and mover of events. In this instance, however, she uses the very argument that has been used to justify the existence of black slavery to argue against it: the connection between Africans and Cain, the murderer of Abel. Judging from a full reading of her poems, it does not seem likely that she herself ever accepted such a charge against her race. What can be said is that the poems of Phillis Wheatley display a classical quality and restrained emotion. This condition ironically coexisted with strong antislavery sentiment among the Christian Evangelical and Whig populations of the city, such as the Wheatleys, who themselves were slaveholders.
He was either a ne'er-do-well who tried many professions for which he was not qualified, or a bright man who had few options to succeed given his color and lack of formal education. They will have an absolute blast and gain mastery of the words. She caused quite a sensation in Europe. Poem Summary In line one, the speaker says that it was great luck that she was brought from Africa the 'Pagan land' to America. She was taught to read and write English as well as the study of Latin and English literature. Form two groups and hold a debate on the topic. Phillis was known as a prodigy, devouring the literary classics and the poetry of the day.
Notably, it was likely that Wheatley, like many slaves, had been sold by her own countrymen. No wonder, then, that thinkers as great as Jefferson professed to be puzzled by Wheatley's poetry. It was dedicated to the Countess of Huntingdon, a known abolitionist, and it made Phillis a sensation all over Europe. So, the format is British and the theme of the poem is American. Phillis Wheatley uses rhyming words to end off her phrases once again, for example, night and sight. They found comfort in Jesus Christ and in the promise of happiness in heaven.
The speaker switches from describing her own life to pointing out the implications of her story. She seems to have been well treated and valued so perhaps she felt she was better off than she would have been in Africa where she may have lived in a slavery to African cultural beliefs that women were cattle. Rhyming words are used again by Phillis to end off phrases. Most black soldiers on both sides die; few gain the freedom they expected. Her elegy for the evangelist George Whitefield, brought more attention to Phillis Wheatley.
Was Phillis Wheatley's restraint simply a matter of imitating the style of poets popular in that time? But this weak argument may be the product of contemporary social structure when the slavery was dominant. Phillis Wheatley had fewer restrictions than most slaves experienced -- but she was still a slave. They had three children together, all of whom died young. It was described as the land where darkness is removed and the ignorance is eradicated. Learning Outcome Upon completion of this lesson, you should recognize that Phillis Wheatley was the first African American poet and her work, which tackled the themes of religion and race, was popular with white Americans and Britons. Wheatley throughout the poem tells about the change in her belief system and she also tells that it was only after coming to America that she realized how Africans are treated outside their country.
Albeit grammatically correct, this comma creates a trace of syntactic ambiguity that quietly instates both Christians and Negroes as the mutual offspring of Cain who are subject to refinement by divine grace. Today: African American women are regularly winners of the highest literary prizes; for instance, won the 1993 for Literature, and Suzan-Lori Parks won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It's probably the most common meter for all poetry in English. The opening thought is thus easily accepted by a white or possibly hostile audience: that she is glad she came to America to find true religion. It includes an account of Wheatley, putting her in context with other significant black contributors to the Revolution.
From the start, critics have had difficulty disentangling the racial and literary issues. Her careful use of rhyme, meter, and irony help her point out the injustices she experiences. Baker offers readings of such authors as , , and as examples of his theoretical framework, explaining that African American women's literature is concerned with a search for spiritual identity. Is there an undertone of critique of slavery as an institution -- beyond the simple reality that her own writing proved that enslaved Africans could be educated and could produce at least passable writings? She does more here than remark that representatives of the black race may be refined into angelic matter—made, as it were, spiritually white through redemptive Christianizing. No one is excluded from the Savior's tender mercy—not the worst people whites can think of—not Cain, not blacks.
Revolutionary Poet: A Story about Phillis Wheatley. In fact, the discussions of religious and political freedom go hand in hand in the poem. Her poetry was published during her lifetime, which is very rare for any poet, let alone a Black woman, and she eventually became quite famous, touring and reading her work in Europe and the U. And, as we have seen, Wheatley claims that this angel-like following will be composed of the progeny of Cain that has been refined, made spiritually bright and pure. One result is that, from the outset, Wheatley allows the audience to be positioned in the role of benefactor as opposed to oppressor, creating an avenue for the ideological reversal the poem enacts. To a Christian, it would seem that the hand of divine Providence led to her deliverance; God lifted her forcibly and dramatically out of that ignorance.
At the same time, she touches on the prejudice many Christians had that heathens had no souls. Within this poem, she utilizes words that can have the reader perplexed wondering if she was fully cognizant of the time and her status, a slave. The more thoughtful assertions come later, when she claims her race's equality. Eleanor Smith, in her 1974 article in the Journal of Negro Education, pronounces Wheatley too white in her values to be of any use to black people. Being the rare educated slave, she may have mocked the beliefs of her fellows, the inferior field slaves. Her rhetoric has the effect of merging the female with the male, the white with the black, the Christian with the Pagan.