Phillis Wheatley clip from series "Great African American Authors"

you you today not enough people know that America's great literary tradition traces back to a woman a black woman living as a slave in Boston Massachusetts that woman made free by the power of her poetry was Phyllis Wheatley Phyllis Wheatley journey to fame as a for mother in african-american literature began here in the bowels of a ship design for the importation of black slaves kidnapped from her native Senegal in West Africa at the age of seven she endured the infamous Middle Passage route to Bermuda and eventually ended up in Boston their ragged ignorant and exhausted she was sold at a slave auction to the family of a tailor John Wheatley their stories around Phyllis Wheatley that people are less familiar with even as they are familiar with the poetry itself so some stories suggest that she was seen as a young person writing with charcoal and she just picked it up off of the ground and started to make marks and that was when the Wheatley's began to recognize that it was possible that she might be a special kind of child their faith was not misplaced Wheatley who possessed a profound intellect took advantage of this opportunity four years after she arrived in Boston she had already mastered English and was reading the classics in Greek and Latin at 13 inspired by the British poet Alexander Pope she wrote her first poems through a slim volume of poems titled poems on various subjects religious and moral Phyllis Wheatley founded three distinct intellectual movements the American poetic tradition the black literary tradition and the women's literary tradition all in her second language English here's a reading of on being brought from Africa to America a poem she wrote of her personal experience of enslavement and her religious beliefs that freed her twas mercy that brought me from my pagan land and taught my benighted soul to understand that there is a God and a savior – once I Redemption never sought nor knew some view are sable race was gone for I their color a diabolic dye but remember Christians that mid rose black his cane may be refined and join the angelic train and being brought from Africa to America I feel as wheat Lee I take a poem like on being brought from Africa to America as deeply ironic and deeply sarcastic and the language actually supports it so if you do a formalist reading of the text which literally takes line by line word by word to see what the context is and to understand the poem then we can make a case for it being very sarcastic so she uses words like pagan and she puts it in italics I think that she's playing on pagan to begin to look at the Latin derivation of the term which is clear about Christianity's debt to paganism so suggesting that she comes from a pagan land it's actually suggesting quite probably that she comes from a land that has a religion that is older than Christianity and that Christianity is in debt too so she need not be brought to America for mercy to have her soul saved because of her intellectual achievement Phyllis was granted her freedom in 1774 she married another free black John Peters and continued to write until her untimely death at age 31 in 1784

30 thoughts on “Phillis Wheatley clip from series "Great African American Authors"

  1. Wheatly….A Black Slave brainwashed by the slave masters religion. I can understand Black Slaves feeding into this bullshit but after 400ys Black ppl STILL eat that Slave Masters religion ?? Its a fucking disgrace. Black ppl should be ashamed still believing such evil !!

  2. That lady flipped the spiritual script on that poem. She said that by breaking up the poem and giving each word or line individual meaning "a case could be made" that everything she wrote was meant to be the opposite. What the? Is it that hard to believe that someone as well read and honest as her was actually glad to be brought to America (the CHRISTIAN woman who bought her was VERY nice to her, even treated her as her own).

    She didn't remember Africa but by reading (which a lot of people don't do…), she learned that Africa was brutal and pagan if not Islamic (which was brutal x2). She was posing an honest question to Christians. America was torn about slavery. Even George Washington (who called himself Ms. Wheatly's "SERVANT") was against slavery in his heart, knew that men were equal… but couldn't tear away from it and couldn't split the country in 2 while we were fighting for our lives against the British.

    Phillis wrote a poem praising Washington which he thanked her for. Both were Christian enough to understand that humans are flawed.. AND that we must strive, as we can, towards the ideal Jesus set down, "love thy neighbor as thyself".

  3. I'm phillis wheatly on my schools revolutionary war play one of my best friends is george Washington

  4. Maybe she was saved from "female genital mutilation" that still happens on the African continent today. Her poetry was heartfelt. Interesting that it was England where her first book was published.

  5. Yes. This is to show that she met. Christ along her journey it's her testimony. Not a white man religion. They jus stole it a add an lie with it. Hello

  6. the woman breaking down her poem sounds ridiculous,there was no sarcasm ,it was a declaration,it was her desire for acceptance because of her awareness and intellect,plain and simple much like MLK's speeches,she to wanted acceptance through religion , religion forced on her like the literature she learned from and about,she was cooning,I would have to hear or read more of her work to think anything different.

  7. Phillis Wheatley was truly an amazing writer. No one can certainly know her intent other than her. Here is a tribute to a great poet in lieu of getting all of the answers that we want.

  8. P.S. The narrator's statement that Wheatley read "the classics in Latin and Greek" is highly dubious: the texts she read were likely translations into English. But the (likely) truth is impressive enough! A very young black slave reading Virgil, Ovid, and Homer is a small miracle! Long live the words of Phillis Wheatley as well as good scholarship!

  9. Wheatley the founder of the "American poetic tradition"? What does that mean? Bradstreet, for one, lived and wrote poetry, much of it great, a century before Wheatley was born. Jupiter Harmon was, as far as I know, the first Af-Am poet to publish poetry. Wheatley's poetry did not free her from slavery; she was manumitted when her mistress, Susannah Wheatley, died. (It will seem controversial when I say that Phillis was fortunate to have had rather liberal-minded owners, but this is the truth. Thank God she wasn't bought by Southern owners!) I don't see sarcasm or irony at all in "On Being Brought," outside of addressing those who claim black people cannot be Christians. She stayed mostly mum about slavery in her writings and was a devout Christian who wrote pious poetry. Why can't we celebrate the remarkable poetry of this young black woman without falsifying her context? She is miracle enough as she is.

  10. Poetry is always open for interpretation of the reader. The professor can have her own reaction, and it is not incorrect. No one needs to judge that. What the poet intended is up to the reader of the poem. Moreover, there is a very high probability that since Phillis came from a predominantly Muslim country and given the nature of her advanced intellect which is also historically recorded, there is a good chance that she came from a Muslim family. Put yourself in her shoes: wake up one day at the age of seven after a deadly sea voyage where you saw all forms of torture and imagine what you will do when you get the chance to sit down and write something.

  11. If NO ONE can know what her intent was, why would this video presume to? I choose to credit her with humility and creativity. I choose to think that she held no malice in her thoughts toward God or even the people that were her "owners". There is no reason for me to think that.

  12. I agree strongly on the sarcasm. This woman was a lady of high intellect not to be fooled by believing her African roots were pagan.

  13. A remarkably intellectual woman, way to brilliant for her day, much like the 'African Genius' Sarah Bonetta Forbes god daughter of Queen Victoria.

  14. Mylie Lang, Who could possibly know Phyllis Wheatley's true intent.  I strongly disagree with your assessment of how it would feel to be brought from Africa to America.  I bet you thought the negro spiritual "Steal Away to Jesus" was about Jesus too.

  15. The PhD lady in this video is portrayed as an expert and yet I have to strongly disagree with her commentary about the poem "Being brought from Africa to America" being deeply sarcastic. Sarcasm was not her language. Sarcasm has absolutely nothing to do with this poem. This poem is deeply testimonial and hopeful. I feel it is wrong for this film to be shown to anyone still forming any opinion on religion because the comments made are very non-factual and speak a negative tone to Christianity as well as what I feel was her true intent in writing about it.

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