Phillis Wheatley was a woman who made a difference. She was the first African-American woman who got her poetry published. At the time she wrote her words, it wasn’t common for women to write and especially when you realise that she was sold into slavery in her youth.
About the poet
Wheatley was born somewhere in 1753 in West Africa. When she was seven or eight, she was sold as a slave. In North America she was introduced as to the Wheatley family. They bought her and oddly enough, they taught her to read and write. When they saw that she had a talent for poetry, they encouraged her to write. This led to the publication of Poems on various subjects, religious and moral in 1773.
Her work got the attention of many people, including George Washington. She got to travel to England. After her master died, Wheatley was a free woman. She married, but it wasn’t a happy marriage. Two of her children died at an early age and her husband was imprisoned in 1784. Due to the financial situation, she became ill and died in 1784.
Remember that at the time Wheatley wrote her poems, it wasn’t common for African-Americans to write poetry. The world as a different place. A place where slavery was considered to be good. Unthinkable these days. That is why these words of Wheatley are so important.
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.
Check out the book below if you are interested in the work of Wheatley (make sure you turn off your add blocker):
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