On Being Brought from Africa to America

Original Text: 
Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London: by A. Bell, for Cox and Berry, Boston, 1773): 18. Facsimile edition in The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley, ed. John C. Shields (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988). PS 866 W5 1988 Robarts Library
2Taught my benighted soul to understand
3That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
4Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
5Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
7Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
8May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.


1] See Sondra O'Neale, "A Slave's Subtle War: Phillis Wheatley's Use of Biblical Myth and Symbol," Early American Literature 21.2 (Fall 1986): 144-65. Back to Line
6] For her punning on indigo die and sugarcane, see James A. Levernier, "Wheatley's On BEING BROUGHT FROM AFRICA TO AMERICA," Explicator 40 (1981): 25-26. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.