Verse > Phillis Wheatley > Poems on Various Subjects
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Phillis Wheatley (1753–1784).  Poems on Various Subjects.  1773.
 
To a Gentleman on his Voyage to Great-Britain for the Recovery of his Health
 
WHILE others chant of gay Elysian scenes,
Of balmy zephyrs, and of flow’ry plains,
My song more happy speaks a greater name,
Feels higher motives and a nobler flame.
For thee, O R—, the muse attunes her strings,        5
And mounts sublime above inferior things.
 
  I sing not now of green embow’ring woods,
I sing not now the daughters of the floods,
I sing not of the storms o’er ocean driv’n,
And how they howl’d along the waste of heav’n,        10
But I to R— would paint the British shore,
And vast Atlantic, not untry’d before:
Thy life impair’d commands thee to arise,
Leave these bleak regions, and inclement skies,
Where chilling winds return the winter past,        15
And nature shudders at the furious blast.
 
  O thou stupendous, earth-enclosing main
Exert thy wonders to the world again!
If ere thy pow’r prolong’d the fleeting breath,
Turn’d back the shafts, and mock’d the gates of death,        20
If ere thine air dispens’d an healing pow’r,
Or snatch’d the victim from the fatal hour,
This equal case demands thine equal care,
And equal wonders may this patient share.
But unavailing, frantic is the dream        25
To hope thine aid without the aid of him
Who gave thee birth, and taught thee where to flow,
And in thy waves his various blessings show.
 
  May R— return to view his native shore
Replete with vigour not his own before,        30
Then shall we see with pleasure and surprize,
And own thy work, great Ruler of the skies!
 
 
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