Phillis Wheatley

(1753 – 5 December 1784 / Gambia)

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On The Death Of A Young Lady Of Five Years Of Age


FROM dark abodes to fair etherial light
Th' enraptur'd innocent has wing'd her flight;
On the kind bosom of eternal love
She finds unknown beatitude above.
This known, ye parents, nor her loss deplore,
She feels the iron hand of pain no more;
The dispensations of unerring grace,
Should turn your sorrows into grateful praise;
Let then no tears for her henceforward flow,
No more distress'd in our dark vale below,
Her morning sun, which rose divinely bright,
Was quickly mantled with the gloom of night;
But hear in heav'n's blest bow'rs your Nancy fair,
And learn to imitate her language there.
"Thou, Lord, whom I behold with glory crown'd,
"By what sweet name, and in what tuneful sound
"Wilt thou be prais'd? Seraphic pow'rs are faint
"Infinite love and majesty to paint.
"To thee let all their graceful voices raise,
"And saints and angels join their songs of praise."
Perfect in bliss she from her heav'nly home
Looks down, and smiling beckons you to come;
Why then, fond parents, why these fruitless groans?
Restrain your tears, and cease your plaintive moans.
Freed from a world of sin, and snares, and pain,
Why would you wish your daughter back again?
No--bow resign'd. Let hope your grief control,
And check the rising tumult of the soul.
Calm in the prosperous, and adverse day,
Adore the God who gives and takes away;
Eye him in all, his holy name revere,
Upright your actions, and your hearts sincere,
Till having sail'd through life's tempestuous sea,
And from its rocks, and boist'rous billows free,
Yourselves, safe landed on the blissful shore,
Shall join your happy babe to part no more.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (9/8/2014 2:58:00 AM)

    A great meaningful poem about death of a young lady of five years age.From start to end it is worthy and meaningful remembering the reader the inevitable death and its different faces and also how to suffer the feelings. I respect the poet and likes the poem. (Report) Reply

  • Soumyashree Kar (9/8/2011 10:22:00 AM)

    Such a wonderful, excellent and heart-touching piece of work.....i can't believe this a mortal deed....so much filled with warmth my heart sobbed at every word and eyes wet....
    I admire ur every knowledge-craft......an unerring 10! ! ! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (9/8/2011 3:18:00 AM)

    Indeed there is no point in moaning for the departed soul from this temporary abode to permanent abode! The poet has wonderfully listed points to console the grieving mother advising her to seek heaven to meet her daughter to be permanently with her! (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (9/8/2009 8:24:00 AM)

    I think she is wrong in her psychology. To weep for the loss of a child is normal and in the long run healthy. When people leave each other they weep, it is as simple as that. I wonder if PW wept for the loss of her two children. PW is coming close to saying that weeping for the loss of a child is against God's ordinance. To lose a child is like receiving a wound - it will heal, but you cannot help weeping for it. (Report) Reply

  • Is It Poetry (9/8/2009 8:12:00 AM)

    There is more here to the eye than modern dissection...
    With racism today even more deadly than that which she endured..
    Many of her formative years..were without doubt traumatic..
    and what is today known of the damage..to the mind is of course without question..learning in the manner in which she did...speaks more than just to..
    the core of strength she most obviously possessed..education acquired..
    and her bearing being such..that she was introduced...to those whom discerned again as much...no not even that....but more...and that manner of speech...
    undoubtedly but sadly...lost forever...and in such a short time...put her short life against her male counterparts...would they have over come..and still be here to be read about...let us hope so...for what crushes most...he himself keeps close...
    for the rest...to become the best.... (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (9/8/2008 10:25:00 AM)

    A far cry from a Hallmark card, that's for sure, despite Richard Lord's dismissal of a poem written centuries ago. 'Nicely wrought poesy, but a bad, bad poem, ' he asserts with the priggish assurance of a modern poetaster who seems unaware of his own ignorance. Too bad Lord wasn't stirred enough to write his own poem addressed to this theme for our time!

    Read the poems by Lord posted on this site and make your own unbiased judgment as to his skills as a first rate poet. He may well fancy himself a latter day Dylan Thomas. (Report) Reply

  • Richard Lord (9/8/2007 10:05:00 PM)

    I find this poem to be a longish and slightly more accomplished version of a Hallmark Cards sympathy card. I'd classify it as a prime example of poetasty; nicely wrought poetasty, but ultimately a bad, bad poem.

    And I'd like to point out that I am a deeply committed Christian who believes in anafterlife and a heavenly state where we can be in the presncne of God and all those in the communion of saints who have gone before us. But this piece does nothing to stir me - except stir me to write this comment.

    Maybe we need a poem addresed to this theme for out time. (BTW: Dylan Thomas' attempts at dealing with this theme were much better than what Wheatley gives us here.) (Report) Reply

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