Phillis Wheatley (1753 – December 5, 1784) was a slave in Boston, Massachusetts, where her master's family taught her to read and write, and encouraged her poetry. Her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was the first published book by an African American. (It was published in London because Boston publishers refused.)
- When first thy pencil did these beaties give
And breathing figures learnt from thee to live
- To A young African painter from Poems on Various Subjects kindle ebook ASIN B0083ZJ7SU
- Creation smiles in various beauty gay
While day to night, and night succeeds day
- Works of Providence from Poems on Various Subjects kindle ebook ASIN B0083ZJ7SU
- 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.
- "On Being Brought from Africa to America" lines 5-8, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773)
- But how is Mneme dreaded by the race,
Who scorn her warnings and despise her grace?
By her unveil'd each horrid crime appears,
Her awful hand a cup of wormwood bears.
Days, years mispent, O what a hell of woe!
Hers the worst tortures that our souls can know.
- "On Recollection" st. 2 lines 7-12, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773)
- 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?
- "To The Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth" st. 2-3, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773)
- 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.
- "To a Gentleman and Lady on the Death of the Lady's Brother and Sister, and a Child of the Name of Avis, aged one Year." st. 2, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773)