Phillis Wheatley’s “An Hymn to the Morning” Essay
There are plenty works of poetry that have been published, but none that match the intellect and beautiful writing aura like those of Phillis Wheatley’s - Phillis Wheatley’s “An Hymn to the Morning” Essay introduction. Phillis Wheatley was America’s first black female poet who learned to read and write at an age where blacks were either unable to learn or restricted from these opportunities. Most of Phillis Wheatley’s poetry consists of religion, death and the hardships and burdens blacks endured throughout slavery. With the will to overcome slavery, she went on to express her thoughts, views, and ideas through poetry.
Her writing talents and deep intellect towards her works separate her from other writers and place her in a category of her own. Even though she has plenty of poems published, one in particular caught my eye the most. In “An Hymn to the Morning” we are introduced to a speaker who is in search of herself, a forceful nature, and what she means to “An Hymn in the Morning. ” We are given a taste of Phillis Wheatley’s amazing writing style as well as a sample to her state of mind and approach to poetry as a whole.
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After reading this poem I’ve come to a realization that Phillis Wheatley’s writing style reminds me much of old English. Not only that, but I’ve also realized that Phillis Wheatley has had some type of influence in the expression of Roman and Greek literature. In “An Hymn to the Morning” I’ve established that Phillis Wheatley wants to address “Calliope” which is one nine muses or in this case goddesses, in relation to music. Being the fact that we are dealing with a hymn we can already assume that the poem has some type of affiliation with music.
The “Calliope” I believe is a forceful goddess in this particular poem that protects and guides the unknown speaker of who is singing in this poem. The speaker also makes mention of this certain “Aurora” as if it is a person or some type of force. In my view I believe the “bright aurora” is a way of describing the dawn of the morning. As stated in the first stanza, line 4 “For bright Aurora now demands my song. ” The speaker is implying that “the morning” is awaiting and demanding that she sing her song, as if it is the speaker’s duty to wake up and give thanks and recognition to “Aurora” by way of a hymn.
In the line 3 this “Aurora” is even asking the speaker to “pour the notes along” from what I can assume the “Aurora” wants the speaker’s words to flow smooth and calmly just like rain. Which is why the word “pour” is introduced. I feel as though the speaker is unsure or intimidated in terms of sharing this song. Or perhaps the speaker doesn’t believe her song is worthy enough to be incorporated into being the morning hymn. In the second stanza I feel as though the speaker is praising and worshipping this “Aurora,” hence “Aurora hail” in the first line of the second stanza.
The speaker then goes on to explain how “Aurora’s” wide extended rays (the sun) awake her. The speaker pays homage this way every morning and also touches base on a bird that is called a zephyr. The speaker states that this particular bird is playing a harmonious tune that she finds peaceful, calming and at ease with. The more I read this poem and think more deeply into it, I can only be amazed at the fact that Phillis Wheatley has written this. She truly expressed an immense amount of intellect and thought as well as painting a direct and symbolic picture of this particular poem.
At the start of the third stanza it begins with “Ye shady groves, your verdant gloom display to shield your poet from the burning day,” I feel as though the speaker is alluding to the fact that trees are blocking the sun from shining on her heavily; however the Calliope, as I mentioned before is the goddess of music. She is also introduced in the third stanza and I’ve come to the conclusion that she is playing a lyre. Being the fact that you can play a lyre for musical purposes we know that lyre and music are one in the same.
The speaker then gives way to the Calliope’s sisters who are fanning the fire. This I believe means that these sisters are fanning the sun that is shining upon them, only to make the sun more brighter just as fanning a fire would make it more brighter and gleaming. In the last stanza, she pays homage one last time to this glorious light. The speaker calls this morning sun the “illustrious king of day” because of its profound illumination. The speaker states that the sun’s radiance drives the shades away.
What I believe the speaker is trying to say is that this profound morning sun can shine its light on darkness or shade and make it nonexistent. When the poem concludes we’re left with the words “But Oh! I feel his fervid beams too strong, and scarce begun, concludes th’ abortive song. ” In my view the speaker is saying that once the morning sun reaches its peek, it’s now time to end the hymn. Now that the speaker has celebrated the dawn of the morning she has to accept the fact that her song must end.
After reading this poem I can honestly say that this is one of the best poems I have ever read. I feel as though Phillis Wheatley expressed her heart in this poem. I can tell just from reading this work that Phillis Wheatley is an individual that has experienced and witness that good and bad moments of life. She spoke through this poem with words of creatively and authenticity. It takes a very talented writer plus a gift from God in order to write poems like this. Phillis Wheatley is by far one of the best writers I’ve ever come across.