Phillis Wheatley's To The Right Honourable William, Earl Of Bradford

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“I, young in life, by seeming cruel fate / Was snatch’d from Afric’s fancy’d happy seat” (Wheatley, 24-25). This line from well-known poem To the Right Honourable William, Earl of Dartmouth, tells the first part of Phillis Wheatley’s remarkable story. Brought to America as a young child, Wheatley became of the first to display African people’s emotional, spiritual, and intellectual ability. Though her life was short and sad, it was a testimony of African American talent to the whites of her day and influenced African Americans after her to display their talent too.
In about 1753, a baby girl was born in West Africa. The only thing she remembered about her life there was her devoted mother’s ritual of pouring water before the sun every morning
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There she stood in a market with other fated Africans, covered by nothing but a dirty piece of carpet (Odell, 12). Things didn’t look good for her. As a girl of about seven or eight years, she was little, scrawny, and inexperienced with hard field work. In addition, her health suffered from the foreign North American weather. What would happen to this girl if no one wanted her? But then a white couple—who she would come to know as the Wheatleys—claimed her. Susanna Wheatley needed a domestic slave, and though there were other women more equipped for the job, Mrs. Wheatley was captivated by the girl’s “humble and modest demeanor” (Odell, 11-12). The Wheatleys promptly named her after the slave ship on which she …show more content…
Mr. Wheatley testified that Phillis learned to speak English in roughly sixteen months after her arrival in America. Soon she attempted to write English letters so Mrs. Wheatley’s daughter, Mary, taught Phillis to read and write. Phillis quickly picked up reading and writing well-known books like the Bible—through which she learned about Jesus and eventually gave her life to Him—and famous poetry. Phillis not only impressed the Wheatleys with her mental aptitude; they also loved her agreeable and polite nature (Odell, 12). Through this, Phillis proved that Africans can be just as gracious and intellectual as whites. And as her life progressed, Phillis would go on to even more incredible feats.
In about 1767, fourteen-year-old Phillis translated a Latin poem into English. That same year, Phillis wrote “On Messrs. Hussey and Coffin”, a poetic tale about two men who narrowly escaped a harrowing storm at sea. On December 21, 1767, Phillis’ true story was published. Three years later, she wrote an elegy about Reverend George Whitefield, a beloved British preacher. In her poem, Phillis beautifully expressed her deep sorrow over the deceased minister and highlighted why she loved him so

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