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C by Phillis Wheatley


"To a Lady On the Death of Her Husband" is a poem written by Phillis Wheatley. This poem is addressed to friend or acquaintance who recently lost her husband. At first glance, the reader might think that the poem is addressed to herself or to the Royal Monarch. However, it's not. The poem mentions "Leonard". Wheatley's husband's name was John and the Royal Monarch was King George at the time. The poem goes on to reassure the wife that her husband is now in a better place and having an immortal life.

"To a Lady On the Death of Her Husband" is written as one really long stanza. It is written in iambic-pentameter (two feet and five meters). It is rhymed in couplets. Therefore, this poem is seen as written in heroic couplets.


To a Lady On the Death of Her Husband

Grim monarch! see, depriv'd of vital breath,
A young physician in the dust of death:
Dost thou go on incessant to destroy,
Our griefs to double, and lay waste our joy?
Enough thou never yet wast known to say,
Though millions die, the vassals of thy sway:
Nor youth, nor science, not the ties of love,
Nor ought on earth thy flinty heart can move.
The friend, the spouse from his dire dart to save,
In vain we ask the sovereign of the grave.
Fair mourner, there see thy lov'd Leonard laid,
And o'er him spread the deep impervious shade.
Clos'd are his eyes, and heavy fetters keep
His senses bound in never-waking sleep,
Till time shall cease, till many a starry world
Shall fall from heav'n, in dire confusion hurl'd
Till nature in her final wreck shall lie,
And her last groan shall rend the azure sky:
Not, not till then his active soul shall claim
His body, a divine immortal frame.
But see the softly-stealing tears apace
Pursue each other down the mourner's face;
But cease thy tears, bid ev'ry sigh depart,
And cast the load of anguish from thine heart:
From the cold shell of his great soul arise,
And look beyond, thou native of the skies;
There fix thy view, where fleeter than the wind
Thy Leonard mounts, and leaves the earth behind.
Thyself prepare to pass the vale of night
To join for ever on the hills of light:
To thine embrace this joyful spirit moves
To thee, the partner of his earthly loves;
He welcomes thee to pleasures more refin'd,
And better suited to th' immortal mind

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