Categories
18th Century African-American Literature Phillis Wheatley Phyllis Wheatley poet Poetry Uncategorized United States women women poets

“To the Right Honourable William, Earl of Dartmouth”


by Phillis Wheatley

HAIL, happy day, when, smiling like the morn,
Fair Freedom rose New-England to adorn:
The northern clime beneath her genial ray,
Dartmouth, congratulates thy blissful sway:
Elate with hope her race no longer mourns,
Each soul expands, each grateful bosom burns,
While in thine hand with pleasure we behold
The silken reins, and Freedom’s charms unfold.
Long lost to realms beneath the northern skies
She shines supreme, while hated faction dies:
Soon as appear’d the Goddess long desir’d,
Sick at the view, she languish’d and expir’d;
Thus from the splendors of the morning light
The owl in sadness seeks the caves of night.
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?
For favours past, great Sir, our thanks are due,
And thee we ask thy favours to renew,
Since in thy pow’r, as in thy will before,
To sooth the griefs, which thou did’st once deplore.
May heav’nly grace the sacred sanction give
To all thy works, and thou for ever live
Not only on the wings of fleeting Fame,
Though praise immortal crowns the patriot’s name,
But to conduct to heav’ns refulgent fane,
May fiery coursers sweep th’ ethereal plain,
And bear thee upwards to that blest abode,
Where, like the prophet, thou shalt find thy God.

This poem is in the public domain.

Categories
18th Century African-American American American Poetry Black History Poetry Uncategorized

From “An Anniversary Poem, Entitled, ‘The Progress of Liberty” by James Madison Bell (1826 – 1902)


 

BY James Madison Bell

Bondsman’s gloomy night has passed; The
The slavery of this land is dead;
No tyrant’s power, however vast,
Can wake it from its gory bed.
For in the order of events,
And after an ignoble reign,
It died. None mourned its going hence,
Nor followed in its funeral train;
Ignoble birth, ignoble life,
Ignoble death, ignoble doom!
Conceived by fiends in deadly strife,
And cast into a nameless tomb.

Though slavery’s dead, yet there remains
A work for those from whom the chains
Today are falling one by one;
Nor should they deem their labor done,
Nor shrink the task, however hard,
While it insures a great reward,
And bids them on its might depend
For perfect freedom in the end.

Commend yourselves through self-respect;
Let self-respect become your guide:
Then will consistency reflect
Your rightful claims to manhood’s pride.
But while you cringe and basely cower,
And while you ostracise your class,
Heaven will ne’er assume the power
To elevate you as a mass.

In this yourselves must take the lead;
You must yourselves first elevate;
Till then the world will ne’er concede
Your claims to manhood’s high estate.
Respect yourself ; this forms the base
Of manhood’s claim to man’s regard.
Next to yourself, respect your race,
Whose care should be your constant ward;
Remember that you are a class
Distinct and separate in this land,
And all the wealth you may amass,
Or skill, or learning, won’t command
That high respect you vainly seek,
Until you practice what you claim —
Until the acts and words you speak
Shall, in the concrete, be the same.

Screen not behind a pallid brow;
Paint lends no virtue to the face;
Until the Black’s respected, thou,
With all the branches of his race,
Must bow beneath the cruel ban
And often feel the wrinkled brow
Bent on you by a fellow-man
Not half so worthy, oft, as thou.

Away with caste, and let us fight
As men, the battles of the free,
And Heaven will arm you with the might
And power of man’s divinity.
There may be causes for distrust,
And many an act that seems unjust;
But who, when taking all in all,
And summing up our present state,
Would find no objects to extol,
No worthy deeds to emulate?

Categories
18th Century African-American American Poetry Black History Phillis Wheatley

From “To the Right Honoruable William, Earl of Dartmouth” by Phillis Wheatley


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?

Categories
17th Century 18th Century Uncategorized

“To a Young Lady, With Some Lampreys” by John Gay (1685 – 1732)


“To a Young Lady, With Some Lampreys”

With lovers, ’twas of old the fashion
By presents to convey their passion;
No matter what the gift they sent,
The Lady saw that love was meant. 
Fair Atalanta, as a favour, 
Took the boar’s head her Hero gave her; 
Nor could the bristly thing affront her, 
’Twas a fit present from a hunter. 
When Squires send woodcocks to the dame, 
It serves to show their absent flame: 
Some by a snip of woven hair, 
In posied lockets bribe the fair; 
How many mercenary matches 
Have sprung from Di’mond-rings and watches! 
But hold – a ring, a watch, a locket,
Would drain at once a Poet’s pocket; 
He should send songs that cost him nought, 
Nor ev’n he prodigal of thought. 
Why then send Lampreys? fye, for shame! 
’Twill set a virgin’s blood on flame. 
This to fifteen a proper gift! 
It might lend sixty five a lift. 
I know your maiden Aunt will scold,
And think my present somewhat bold. 
I see her lift her hands and eyes. 
‘What eat it, Niece? eat Spanish flies! 
‘Lamprey’s a most immodest diet: 
‘You’ll neither wake nor sleep in quiet. 
‘Should I to night eat Sago cream, 
‘’Twould make me blush to tell my dream;
‘If I eat Lobster, ’tis so warming, 
‘That ev’ry man I see looks charming; 
‘Wherefore had not the filthy fellow 
‘Laid Rochester upon your pillow? 
‘I vow and swear, I think the present 
‘Had been as modest and as decent. 
‘Who has her virtue in her power? 
‘Each day has its unguarded hour;
‘Always in danger of undoing, 
‘A prawn, a shrimp may prove our ruin! 
‘The shepherdess, who lives on salad, 
‘To cool her youth, controuls her palate; 
‘Should Dian’s maids turn liqu’rish livers, 
‘And of huge lampreys rob the rivers, 
‘Then all beside each glade and Visto, 
‘You’d see Nymphs lying like Calisto.
‘The man who meant to heat your blood, 
‘Needs not himself such vicious food –’ 
In this, I own, your Aunt is clear, 
I sent you what I well might spare: 
For when I see you, (without joking) 
Your eyes, lips, breasts, are so provoking, 
They set my heart more cock-a-hoop, 
Than could whole seas of craw-fish soupe.

 

Categories
18th Century Augustan Period British Poetry European Poetry James Thomson Uncategorized

“Rule Britannia” by James Thomson (1700 – 1748)


“Rule Britannia”

When Britain first, at heaven’s command,
    Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
    And guardian angels sung this strain—
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
The nations, not so blest as thee,
    Must in their turns to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
    The dread and envy of them all.
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
    More dreadful from each foreign stroke;
As the loud blast that tears the skies
    Serves but to root thy native oak.
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
Thee haughty tyrants ne’er shall tame;
    All their attempts to bend thee down,
Will but arouse thy generous flame,
    But work their woe and thy renown.
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
To thee belongs the rural reign;
    Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main,
    And every shore it circles thine.
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
The Muses, still with freedom found,
    Shall to thy happy coast repair:
Blest isle! with matchless beauty crowned,
    And manly hearts to guard the fair.
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
Source: The Longman Anthology of Poetry (2006)
Categories
18th Century American Poetry Uncategorized women poets

“The Watcher” by SARAH JOSEPHA HALE (1787 – 1900)


“The Watcher”

by Sarah Josepha Hale

The night was dark and fearful,
The blast swept wailing by;
A Watcher, pale and tearful,
Look’d forth with anxious eye;
How wistfully she gazes—
No gleam of morn is there!
And then her heart upraises
Its agony of prayer!

Within that dwelling lonely,
Where want and darkness reign,
Her precious child, her only,
Lay moaning in his pain;
And death alone can free him—
She feels that this must be:
“But oh! for morn to see him
Smile once again for me!”

A hundred lights are glancing
In yonder mansion fair,
And merry feet are dancing—
They heed not morning there.
Oh! young and lovely creatures,
One lamp, from out your store,
Would give that poor boy’s features
To her fond gaze once more.

The morning sun is shining—
She heedeth not its ray;
Beside her dead, reclining,
That pale, dead mother lay!
A smile her lip was wreathing,
A smile of hope and love,
As though she still were breathing—
“There’s light for us above!”

Categories
18th Century African-American American American Poetry Black History Poetry Uncategorized

“Frederick Douglass” by Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr. (1861 – 1949)


Frederick Douglass

BY JOSEPH SEAMON COTTER, SR

O eloquent and caustic sage!
Thy long and rugged pilgrimage
To glory’s shrine has ended;
And thou hast passed the inner door,
And proved thy fitness o’er and o’er,
And to the dome ascended.

In speaking of thy noble life
One needs must think upon the strife
That long and sternly faced it;
But since those times have flitted by,
Just let the useless relic die
With passions that embraced it.

There is no evil known to man
But what, if wise enough, he can
Grow stronger in the bearing;
And so the ills we often scorn
May be of heavenly wisdom born
To aid our onward faring.

Howe’er this be, just fame has set
Her jewels in thy coronet
So firmly that the ages
To come will ever honor thee
And place thy name in company
With patriots and sages.

Now thou art gone, the little men
Of fluent tongue and trashy pen
Will strive to imitate thee;
And when they find they haven’t sense
Enough to make a fair pretense,
They’ll turn and underrate thee.

Categories
18th Century African-American American American Poetry Black History Poetry Uncategorized

“Robert G. Shaw” by Henrietta Cordelia Ray (1850? – 1916)


When War’s red banners trailed along the sky,
And many a manly heart grew all aflame
With patriotic love and purest aim,
There rose a noble soul who dared to die,
If only Right could win. He heard the cry
Of struggling bondmen and he quickly came,
Leaving the haunts where Learning tenders fame
Unto her honored sons; for it was ay
A loftier cause that lured him on to death.
Brave men who saw their brothers held in chains,
Beneath his standard battled ardently.
O friend! O hero! thou who yielded breath
That others might share Freedom s priceless gains,
In rev’rent love we guard thy memory.

Categories
18th Century Uncategorized William Wordsworth

“The Sun Has Long Been Set” by William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)


The sun has long been set,
  The stars are out by twos and threes,
The little birds are piping yet
  Among the bushes and trees;
There’s a cuckoo, and one or two thrushes,
And a far-off wind that rushes,
And a sound of water that gushes,
And the cuckoo’s sovereign cry
Fills all the hollow of the sky.
  Who would “go parading”
In London, “and masquerading,"
On such a night of June
With that beautiful soft half-moon, 
And all these innocent blisses?
On such a night as this is!
Categories
18th Century 19th century Celebration English poetry European Poetry nature Poetry UK Uncategorized United Kingdom William Wordsworth

Poem: “Traveling” by William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)


This is the spot:—how mildly does the sun
Shine in between the fading leaves! the air
In the habitual silence of this wood
Is more than silent: and this bed of heath,
Where shall we find so sweet a resting-place?
Come!—let me see thee sink into a dream
Of quiet thoughts,—protracted till thine eye
Be calm as water when the winds are gone
And no one can tell whither.—my sweet friend!
We two have had such happy hours together
That my heart melts in me to think of it.