On Being Brought From Africa to America
by Phillis Wheatley
A poem first published in 1773.
While grateful for the religion brought to her by enslavement, the speaker bemoans the loss of freedom and argues that blacks and whites alike share the same human potential.
‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
Once I redemption1 neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their colour is a diabolic die."
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin'd and join th' angelic train.
1 Redemption: 1) Deliverance from sin and damnation. 2) Payment for freedom from slavery or captivity.
PORTRAIT: Phillis Wheatley (© 2003 Meredith Bergmann; sculpture Meredith Begmann; photo Ricardo Barros).
CITATION INFORMATION (in MLA format): Wheatley, Phillis. "On Being Brought From Africa to America." Gleeditions, 17 Apr. 2011, www.gleeditions.com/fromafricatoamerica/students/pages.asp?lid=307&pg=5. Originally published in Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley, Geo. W. Light, 1834, p. 42.