Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Phillis Wheatley

Of Wheatley's poems, which one did you like the best? Why? And which did you think demonstrated most strongly her autonomous will, her strength of beliefs, and perhaps her own individually articulated defense of the morality and humanity of African American people?

15 comments:

  1. For all those questions, I'd choose the first poem, On Being Brought From Africa to America. I liked it most because the images it conveyed were the most tangible for me making it easier to follow along. I also appreciated her ability to be succinctly eloquent in this poem. In this poem, she mentions her conversion to Christianity and uses her religious beliefs and its Christian teachings of mercy and respect to boldly defend the humanity of her race, yet remain polite to those who had enslaved them. For being black and female at the time, it is a powerful demonstration of her strong will and beliefs to be able to write about racial equality for an audience that was likely predominately white males.

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  2. My favorite poem of Wheatley’s was On Being Brought From Africa to America. I liked how the poem centered primarily on religion as a connection between all races. It’s interesting that she doesn’t embrace the “Pagan” religions of her homeland, but rather the Christian religions of America. This has a particularly strong effect in the poem, as it connects her to a world which so strongly stereotypes her with the religious practices of where she came from. I think this poem best demonstrates the strongest of her personal beliefs. For her audience, Christianity is an institution of compassion and good works. By emphasizing that this is a connection between her and her audience, she reinforces the hypocrisy of their actions. If they were good Christians, they would not subject other Christians to the institution of slavery because it would be a violation of their faith.

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  3. My favorite poem that we read of Phillis Wheatley’s was “On Being Brought From Africa to America” because it was short and it explained that she accepted being converted to Christianity and that other Christians should act more Christian.
    The poem that represented Wheatley the most was “On Imagination” because it mixes her Western educated self with her African roots.

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  4. My Favorite poem from Phillis Wheatley was "On Being Brought From Africa to America" because it showed that yes she was brought a slave, but because of this she was able to learn about Christianity, and learn how to read and right. Wheatley showed that her being a slave brought her to Christianity. Expressing gratitude for her enslavement. she showed that "good can come out of bad"

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  5. I can't say I especially enjoyed any of them. The style seems profoundly stilted, the sort of thing one might expect from a high school kid trying too hard to impress. The poem embracing Christianity was a bit hard to swallow, and though I don't know much about Wheatley herself, it seemed almost like she'd been brainwashed. It is my uneducated guess that Wheatley was either an impressionable ingénue, or she was compelled by unsteady social standing to ape the beliefs, culture, and traditions of white people in order to improve her station.

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  6. I found the "On being brought from Africa to America" to be the most interesting. I thought this because it does go against the common conception that being brought from one's homeland to America can be disorienting and possibly a negative experience. Wheatley paints it in such a positive glow that it made me certain of her views on Africans assimilating into American culture. I believe this poem is referring to her morals in that she believes that assimilation with American culture is mostly positive, but mostly I believe that the central message of this poem is to avoid negative thoughts towards combining to religions and/or cultures. "Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,May be refin'd and join th'angelic train" is the line I'm referring to; "angelic train" may not just be American religion, but it may refer to the tolerance which she believes in.

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  7. I enjoyed 'On Being Brought from Africa to America" because I thought it was impressive how Wheatley chose each word so carefully to make sure the reader meant what she was writing. I was impressed with her descriptions of scenery, but also her descriptions of feelings.

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  8. I preferred On Being Brought From Africa to America because it showed a strong side of her by saying that she was saved from her previous land to become a Christian, but still reminded the Christians what they should have already knew. Like rebelling to the people who saved her.

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  9. I enjoyed the poem that discussed imagination. This poem I feel captures Wheatley's intentions on becoming an author. Wheatley was at the bottom of the totum pole in society. She manages to throw herself to the top and she does so through the use of a very creative imagination which is critical to creative writing. Her imagination allows her to create the peotry that so powerfully speaks to an audience that did not think much of her because of her race.

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  10. I like the "To S. M., a Young African Painter, On Seeing His Works" poem best because it celebrates the creativity of the African American people.Through creativity and craftsmanship she expresses her autonomous will and individualism.

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  11. "On Being Brought From Africa to America" resonated the most strongly with me, as it was the only one that I felt her actual emotions come through in. You could really feel that she was glad to have been taken over to America as a slave, to have been educated and to learn of the existence of God. The others seem bland and sterile, too derivative and classical, and they don't really convey any emotion or feeling to me.

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  12. The Phillis Wheatley poem that I enjoyed the most was On Being Brought from Africa to America, this is because I feel that it show that she can find some good from her being forced to leave Africa and come to America. she seems to be thankful that she was able to learn about Christianity and give up her pagan ways.

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  13. Phillis Wheatley's poem "On Being Brought from Africa to america," best shows her attitude towards people around, even those that thought themselves her betters. She definitely had knowledge of the ideology that considered people of color to be lesser than those of white ethnicity, yet she found the chutzpah to remind her readers that the the colored person, "black as Cain," can be redeemed and so join the angelic train.

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  14. My favorite Phillis Wheatley poem was On Being Brought From Africa to America. I liked it because of how happy she was to come to America, this is not exactly something that I expected to hear for a slave. Also, I enjoyed her wording of the poem, I thought it was very cleaver and semi-emotional.

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  15. I liked the poem "On Being Brought From Africa to America" best. I think it shows a lot of her wants, that she has accepted the new culture in which she has been entered, but that she still wants to advance her race, to earn true equality. She argues that in the eyes of God both Negros and Christians go to the same Heaven.

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