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Poems of Phillis Wheatley

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The poetry of America's first published black poet was published before the Revolutionary War and recognized throughout the English-speaking world. Phillis Wheatley was born in Africa, sold as a slave in America, and became a celebrity in Europe. This volume also contains a short memoir of her life.
Paperback, 108 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Applewood Books
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Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
“Some view our sable race with scornful eye, ‘Their colour is a diabolic dye.’ Remember, Christians... Negros, black as Cain, May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.”

This was a for-school-read that I really ended up enjoying. First published in 1770, Phillis Wheatley was a remarkable young woman. A slave in the American colonies, Wheatley spent years not only learning English, but developing a power with words. She became the first African-American poet published, with success as far
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, classic
Phillis Wheatley is a very interesting character and some of her poetry is thus really interesting to look at. It did take me a while to get used to the writing of 's' as an 'f' in some cases, but once you get through that it's really easy to read. I did think there were too many poems about the death of people which basically all came down to the conclusion that the bereaved did not have to be sad because their loved ones were happy in heaven. The rest of her poetry is really good and I liked ...more
Jun 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
It’s amazing a slave wrote such poems. But the poems aren’t good.
Eva Nieves
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
(I didn't read the whole book of poems but someone's I did like "To the University of Cambridge") This was required reading in my English class and for the most part I really liked it. But let me say, you need a dictionary with you to understand it. Her writing style is very strong so sometimes you may be thinking what does she mean but overall I found that she was very pleasent to read. I love her background story and how she got to be published. Even though the culture in that time tought ...more
Cassandra Hawkins
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What a powerful way to begin my reading lists for 2011! Reading Phillis Wheatley poetry was so interesting. I read it on my iPad through the kindle application. This book of poetry was also my first book completed on my iPad. What a monumental day! I am just dumbfounded that she was a slave and that she wrote these poems during the 1700s. However, my psychobiographical background forces me to be intrigued by the numerous poems, which are laced with death themes. I was intrigued by the many ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Phillis Wheatley is my girl. She was the first black poet to publish a book. She had a gift for language and she wrote some of the best poems. Here's this from "To S.M., A Young African Painter, on Seeing His Works"

To show the lab’ring bosom’s deep intent,
And thought in living characters to paint,
When first thy pencil did those beauties give,
And breathing figures learnt from thee to live,
How did those prospects give my soul delight,
A new creation rushing on my sight!
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am not a fan of poetry much but I had to read this book. Phillis Wheatley was America's first published poet. She was an African sold into slavery. She was brought here when she was about 7. She had a dizzying intellect and wrote many of these poems in her youth.

I especially enjoyed the poem on Imagination. Here is a small excerpt from it:

"Such is they power, nor are thine orders vain. O thou, the leader of the mental train: In full perfection all thy works are wrought, And thine the sceptre
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I so adore her verses and flow. She has a way with words that can bring to move along with her hidden agenda.
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Her poems may, at times, be repetitive and derivative (of Pope and Milton--not two of my favorites). Many of the poems are elegies rather than direct expressions of her personal feelings and history. But here she is: the first published African American poet.

Phillis was seized from Senegal/Gambia, West Africa, when she was about seven years old. She was transported to the Boston docks with a shipment of "refugee" slaves, who because of age or physical frailty were unsuited for rigorous labor in
R.K. Byers
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
her critics are too harsh. she died @ 31. Milton didn't write "Paradise Lost" till he was 56!
Jeremy Forbes
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rejoice! Let us read another review about Phillis Wheatley that celebrates her well written poetry. A review that wonders at the melodic dance she plays with words that engage you into appreciation: appreciation that she is the first African or person of color to write and be published in America, appreciation that she was taken from her land and forced to write for profit and be published-yet died poor and alone, or how about appreciation for the fact that she wrote in celebration of the ...more
Mizzes Miree
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ebony Miree
ENG 302-Professor Kappes


Going through a Transition
In the poem “On being brought from Africa to America” by Phillis Wheatley the narrator is going through a change in their religion as well as their thought process. The poem itself is short but Phillis Wheatley uses a tone in the poem that allows the reader to pick up on Wheatley’s grief as well as sarcasm toward the people who colonized her taking away her identity of being African. The reasons people should read this
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I always knew about Phillis Wheatley but I never really knew> her. Through her poetry, I feel that I finally got the chance to hear her voice. She was such a gifted poet, even at such a young age. You can imagine what she would have accomplished if she lived past her 30s. She had two strikes against her: being a woman and being African-American. And she still overcome those odds and manage to publish her own book of poems and make a name for herself. Phillis Wheatley needs to be read more.
Maughn Gregory
My rating is a tribute rating, for the pomp, sentimentality and internalized colonialism of these poems is had to take, but the humanity of this first-published African American slave poet shines through them, and her life story -- best told in Honoree Fanonne Jeffers' 2016 essay "'The Dear Pledges of our Love': A Defense of Phillis Wheatley's Husband" -- deserves nothing less than veneration.
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed-poetry
I looked this up many years ago after learning the brief history of one of our public schools (obviously named Phillis Wheatley. While her poems are very much in a certain style of the time, they are as good or better than any others in that genre and should be lauded just for that, on top of her activism and story.
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The memoir in the back really made up for it since I'm not a poetry person. I did enjoy her poems about death.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
great story of a woman defeating the odds. to take command of old and new English is a feat in itself. But to do it with little formal education is a miracle.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent collection of poems.
Ash Connell-Gonzalez
There's quite a bit of what we might call internalized colonialism here.
Jennifer M. Hartsock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katie Sargent
Mar 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Not my favorite style of poetry, but interesting none the less from a historical view, not to mention the difficult things that Wheatley had to say about coming to America from Africa, calling it a "grace." I also found it interesting to read some of her letters and learn of other former slaves who desired to return to Africa as missionaries. These are stories you just don't hear in history class; stories of slaves being published and buying their freedom and becoming missionaries, etc., and as ...more
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
I get it, I do. It is remarkable stuff, especially for a slave of the time who was mostly self-taught but was able to learn her letters at an amazing rate and write such poetry. Even so, I just don't care much for poetry, and Ms. Wheatley's just doesn't make it onto my list of the small amount I am able to tolerate.
Sep 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Pretty good. This book is a really good one if you want to really study Wheatley's life and works; as I did not (just wanted to read her works :D), I just skipped all the footnotes. Wheatley is a very inspiring poet, though. I appreciated her work a lot!
Nicole Gervasio
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Baffling to remember that Wheatley was only seven (or nine?) years old while writing these. Very well-written, striking, and sometimes problematic, which instigates interesting questions about her relationship to Christianity.
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
re-read 1/12
Sep 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: engl-7213, 2011
Although I'm not a fan a poetry, this book has a great deal of historical merit, in that it is the first publication by an African American woman in this country.
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Not easy to read, I lost interest. Got about 1/3 of the way more than once!
Dec 16, 2016 marked it as to-read
* Understanding Oppression: African American Rights (Then and Now)

Poems of Phillis Wheatley by Phillis Wheatley #slavery
Michael Lloyd-Billington
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Oct 10, 2018
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Phillis Wheatley (1753 – December 5, 1784?) was the first professional African American poet and the first African-American woman whose writings were published. Born in Gambia, Senegal, she was enslaved at age eight. She was purchased by the Wheatley family of Boston, who taught her to read and write, and helped encourage her poetry.

Born about 1753 in West Africa, she was kidnapped in 1763 and
“Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan
Taught my benighted soul to understand That there's a God, that there's a Savior too: Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.”
More quotes…