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To The Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth by Phillis Wheatley


"To The Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth" is a poem written by Phillis Wheatley. This poem, written to the Earl of Dartmouth, William Legge, isn't only about the Earl, but instead, it is about everything Wheatley is feeling at the moment. The first, second, and third stanzas of the poem are praising the United States for being newly freed from Great Britain. The fourth stanza starts to tell the Earl why she loves freedom so much and mentions her being "snatched from Afric's fancied happy seat". She goes on to thank the Earl for what he had done before. It should be noted that Wheatley met the Earl before while she was in London.

"To The Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth" is a five stanza poem with varying lengths. However, every stanza follows the same rhythm scheme and rhyme scheme. It is written as heroic couplets (iambic-pentameter lines that are rhymed back-to-back).


To The Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth

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 appeared the Goddess long desired,
Sick at the view she languished and expired;

Thus from the splendors of the morning light
The owl in sadness seeks the eaves of night.

No more, America, in mournful strain,
Of wrongs and grievance unredressed complain;
No longer shall 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 snatched from Afric's fancied happy seat:
What pangs excruciating must molest,
What sorrows labour in my parent's breast!
Steeled was that soul, and by no misery moved,
That from a father seized his babe beloved:
Such, such my case. And can I then but pray
Others may never feel tyrannic sway?

For favors past, great Sir, our thanks are due,
And thee we ask thy favors to renew,
Since in thy power, as in thy will before,
To soothe the griefs, which thou didst once deplore.
May heavenly grace the sacred sanction give
To all thy works, and thou forever live,
Not only on the wings of fleeting Fame,
Though praise immortal crowns the patriot's name,
But to conduct to heaven's refulgent fane,
May fiery coursers sweep the etherial plain,
And bear thee upwards to that blest abode,
Where, like the prophet, thou shalt find thy God

Next: On Being Brought from Africa to America
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