Poetry helps to convey the heaviness of a message with embedded words. It comes as no surprise that poetry has been in existence since slavery, given that it was a time people had a lot on their minds and hearts.
We take time to pay homage, review and critique a poem from the first African American female poet, Phillis Wheatley.
Although she was a slave, Wheatley was one of the best known poets in pre-nineteenth century America. Poetry Foundation mentioned: “Wheatley was the Abolitionist illustrative testimony that blacks could be artistic and intellectual.”
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Wheatley was a household name among literate colonists and her achievements were a catalyst for the fledgling antislavery movement. Although slavery is no more, her poetry keeps inspiring.
Let’s take a look at one of her poems, Virtue.
The poem is open to self-understanding. Virtue, a behavior showing high moral standards, is beautifully portrayed and glorified.
In the first stanza, she expresses her desire to be virtuous, while fully understanding its value and how she feels virtue is a soft hand that can cradle her in times of despair.
In the second stanza, she lets her belief sip through, as she praises one’s union with virtue. She acknowledges the advantages it brings in the forms of chastity and glory when one is virtuous.
In the third and last stanza of the poem, she expresses what she expects from being virtuous. Wheatley in all, desires virtue to bring her happiness.
Wheatley was a great poet whose works ignite change and growth, as individuals, nations and a world. She was indeed a great poet.