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A poem by Phillis Wheatley



On the Death of a young Lady of Five Years of Age

FROM dark abodes to fair etherial light  
Th’ enraptur’d innocent has wing’d her flight;  
On the kind bosom of eternal love  
She finds unknown beatitude above.  
This know, ye parents, nor her loss deplore,        5
She feels the iron hand of pain no more;  
The dispensations of unerring grace,  
Should turn your sorrows into grateful praise;  
Let then no tears for her henceforward flow,  
No more distress’d in our dark vale below.       10
  Her morning sun, which rose divinely bright,  
Was quickly mantled with the gloom of night;  
But hear in heav’n’s blest bow’rs your Nancy fair,  
And learn to imitate her language there.  
“Thou, Lord, whom I behold with glory crown’d,      15
By what sweet name, and in what tuneful sound  
Wilt thou be prais’d? Seraphic pow’rs are faint  
Infinite love and majesty to paint.  
To thee let all their graceful voices raise,  
And saints and angels join their songs of praise.”      20
  Perfect in bliss she from her heav’nly home  
Looks down, and smiling beckons you to come;  
Why then, fond parents, why these fruitless groans?  
Restrain your tears, and cease your plaintive moans.  
Freed from a world of sin, and snares, and pain,       25
Why would you wish your daughter back again?  
No—bow resign’d. Let hope your grief control,  
And check the rising tumult of the soul.  
Calm in the prosperous, and adverse day,  
Adore the God who gives and takes away;  30
Eye him in all, his holy name revere,  
Upright your actions, and your hearts sincere,  
Till having sail’d through life’s tempestuous sea,  
And from its rocks, and boist’rous billows free,  
Yourselves, safe landed on the blissful shore,        35
Shall join your happy babe to part no more


Phillis Wheatley (1753 – 1784)