Oh those revolutionaries

“No more, american in mournful strain

Of wrongs, and grievance unredress’d complain,

No longer shalt thou dread the iron chain,

Which wanton Tyranny with lawless hand

Had made, and with it meant t’enslave the land.

Should you, my lord, while you peruse my song,

WOnder from whence my love of Freedom sprung

Whence flow these wishes for the common good,

By feeling hearts alone best understood,

I, young in life, by seeming cruel fate

Was snatch’d from Afric’s fancy’d happy seat:

What pangs excruciating must molest,

What sorrows labour in my parent’s breast?

Steel’d was that sould and by no misery mov’d

That from a father seiz’d his babe belov’d:

Such, such my case. And can I then but pray

Other may never feel tyrannic sway. ”

–“To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Darthsmouth”

 

What I do not relate to this poem is the author’s connection to slavery. Dwelling in a post Civil Rights society, I have only ever seen the government stand up for on behalf of their citizens. Thus, I could not understand what it means to be Wheatley who is not only a black individual pre-Antebellum but also a female. Because of these joint minorities, she would normally have very little opportunity to advance herself. In comparison, I, an atypical “white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, have nearly never undergone any of the trials and discrimination Wheatley would have. While I sympathize with her, and commend her wonderful contributions, I have personally never even experienced any type of “slavery.”

What I find interesting about this passage, along with many other passages, is the obvious suppression she endures. Although very emotional in her writing, I feel as though her poetry she is either: A). extremely hopeful; or, B) compelled to be so. Writing about a hope for freedom long awaited, Wheatley inscribed, “Elate with hope her race no longer mourns…While in thine hand with pleasure we behold The silken reins, and Freedom’s charms unfold. Long lost to realms beneath the northern skies (Wheatley 39).According to this, Wheatley is basically projecting that now that there is hope for freedom everyone is going to just live “happily ever after” and that be the end of it. However, to me, this seems a bit unnatural. Coming from a woman that was torn away from her home and forced to become a slave; it all sounds too naive. By comparing the black enslavement to America’s lack of freedom from Britain, she is also performing either one of two things: A) relating the two genuinely; or, B) mocking America’s struggle. “No longer shalt thou dread the iron chain, Which wanton Tyranny with lawless hand Had made…” (Wheately 40). At the time in America, the colonists were not really as oppressed as people like to think. The colonies had their own ways to pass their own legislation. At this time, Blacks could never even think of having such ability. So, I tend to believe that she, through this passage, is pointing out that while it sucks to be reigned over, America did not have it as bad as they thought. They believed themselves to be so oppressed. Issuing articles about freedom and equality, the revolutionary leaders barely practiced what they preached. For, the blacks continued to be enslaved and would be for nearly 100 years (not to mention the discriminatory three-fifths compromise).

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~ by kellysawesomethoughts on March 11, 2011.

One Response to “Oh those revolutionaries”

  1. I like the way your first paragraph about the limits of your ability to identify with Wheatley’s plight leads into your second on the implications of her analogy between the oppression of the colonies and the oppression of slaves. Very subtle and well done.

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