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An Hymn to the Evening
Phillis Wheatley


Soon as the sun forsook the eastern main
The pealing thunder shook the heav'nly plain;
Majestic grandeur! From the zephyr's wing,
Exhales the incense of the blooming spring.
Soft purl the streams, the birds renew their notes,
And through the air their mingled music floats.

Through all the heav'ns what beauteous dies are spread!
But the west glories in the deepest red:
So may our breasts with ev'ry virtue glow,
The living temples of our God below!

Fill'd with the praise of him who gives the light,
And draws the sable curtains of the night,
Let placid slumbers sooth each weary mind,
At morn to wake more heav'nly, more refin'd;
So shall the labours of the day begin
More pure, more guarded from the snares of sin.

Night's leaden sceptre seals my drowsy eyes,
Then cease, my song, till fair Aurora rise.

This poem is in the public domain.


Bronze statue  designed by Meredith Bergmann.
Part of the Boston' Women's Memorial.

Phillis Wheatley (1753 – 1784) was kidnapped in West Africa as a child, transported to America, and sold to a prominent Boston family. The Wheatleys recognized Phillis’ interest and aptitude for learning and supplied her with a proper education. By her early teens, she was reading Greek and Latin and writing poetry. Through contacts made possible by the Wheatley family, she published a book at the age of 20 -- the first American slave, the first person of African descent, and the third colonial American female to claim that honor. Freed by the Wheatleys when she was 22, Phillis eventually married John Peters and had several children—all of whom eventually died. Peters was a poor provider and spent much of his time in jail, but despite her dismal living conditions, Phillis continued to write and receive acclaim from such esteemed individuals as George Washington and Thomas Paine. At one time, she was considered the world’s most famous African and she remains one of the best-known poets of pre-19th century America.


Post New Comment:
a beautiful statue of a beautiful woman and a lovely poet.
Posted 06/21/2023 03:06 AM
Wilda Morris:
A beautiful poem. It makes me sad to think of how much art and poetry and how many other good things were denied to the world by white men denying so many people the right to freedom and schooling.
Posted 06/20/2023 05:30 PM
What an amazing background story of Ms. Wheatley and her exceptional poem! I'm so glad you shared her work including the bronze statue of her. Thank you.
Posted 06/19/2023 08:05 PM
Carol Clearwater:
Best phrase for me is "sable curtains of the night". And, I learnt a new meaning for the word purl, I know it only in knitting so off to my trusty Macquarie dictionary( don't always trust Professor Google) - so a meaning current in American English I don't recall ever meeting before. I love words and all the stuff they bring with them.
Posted 06/19/2023 07:39 PM
Such a vividly descriptive, magnificent piece! Great choice for the day
Posted 06/19/2023 03:28 PM
Beautiful language: "sable curtains of the night", "night's leaden sceptre" Such a short life she had. Would love to read more of her work. MZWindau
Posted 06/19/2023 12:17 PM
Extraordinary. Thank you Jayne for posting this poem today.
Posted 06/19/2023 09:50 AM

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