(1753 – 5 December 1784 / Gambia)

To A Lady And Her Children

O'erwhelming sorrow now demands my song:
From death the overwhelming sorrow sprung.
What flowing tears? What hearts with grief opprest?
What sighs on sighs heave the fond parent's breast?
The brother weeps, the hapless sisters join
Th' increasing woe, and swell the crystal brine;
The poor, who once his gen'rous bounty fed,
Droop, and bewail their benefactor dead.
In death the friend, the kind companion lies,
And in one death what various comfort dies!
Th' unhappy mother sees the sanguine rill
Forget to flow, and nature's wheels stand still,
But see from earth his spirit far remov'd,
And know no grief recalls your best-belov'd:
He, upon pinions swifter than the wind,
Has left mortality's sad scenes behind
For joys to this terrestrial state unknown,
And glories richer than the monarch's crown.
Of virtue's steady course the prize behold!

What blissful wonders to his mind unfold!
But of celestial joys I sing in vain:
Attempt not, muse, the too advent'rous strain.

No more in briny show'rs, ye friends around,
Or bathe his clay, or waste them on the ground:
Still do you weep, still wish for his return?
How cruel thus to wish, and thus to mourn?
No more for him the streams of sorrow pour,
But haste to join him on the heav'nly shore,
On harps of gold to tune immortal lays,
And to your God immortal anthems raise.

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Comments (16)

In the missing of loved friends (and, in this case benefactors) we mourn. Phillis Wheatley reminds us in her superb poetic words that the once loved and honorable friends who have died are now in their eternal reward which, for them, we need not mourn nor wish for their return, but " haste to join" when it is our time. Her outlook on life is one of difficulties where love for neighbor brings some happiness to be ultimately at death given eternal happiness.
Th' unhappy mother sees the sanguine rill Forget to flow, and nature's wheels stand still, ...so touching and impressive. Beautiful poem by Phillis Wheatley.
No more in briny show'rs, ye friends around, Or bathe his clay, or waste them on the ground: Still do you weep, still wish for his return? a very good poem from Phillis. tony
What flowing tears? what heart with grief opprest? What sighs on sighs heave the fond parents breast. Great poem with sad and touching effect.
But of celestial joys I sing in vain: Attempt not, muse, the too advent'rous strain.... What a joy is it to read a real poem! And not the modern prose so verbose.
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