On Virtue

Original Text: 
Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London: by A. Bell, for Cox and Berry, Boston, 1773): 13-14. 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
1O Thou bright jewel in my aim I strive
2To comprehend thee. Thine own words declare
3Wisdom is higher than a fool can reach.
4I cease to wonder, and no more attempt
5Thine height t'explore, or fathom thy profound.
6But, O my soul, sink not into despair,
7Virtue is near thee, and with gentle hand
8Would now embrace thee, hovers o'er thine head.
9Fain would the heav'n-born soul with her converse,
10Then seek, then court her for her promis'd bliss.
11Auspicious queen, thine heav'nly pinions spread,
12And lead celestial Chastity along;
13Lo! now her sacred retinue descends,
14Array'd in glory from the orbs above.
15Attend me, Virtue, thro' my youthful years!
16O leave me not to the false joys of time!
17But guide my steps to endless life and bliss.
18Greatness, or Goodness, say what I shall call thee,
19To give an higher appellation still,
20Teach me a better strain, a nobler lay,
21O thou, enthron'd with Cherubs in the realms of day!
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.