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A Rebus

Phillis Wheatley 1753 (West Africa) – 1784 (Boston)

I.

A bird delicious to the taste,
On which an army once did feast,
  Sent by an hand unseen;
A creature of the horned race,
Which Britain's royal standards grace;
  A gem of vivid green;

II.

A town of gaiety and sport,
Where beaux and beauteous nymphs resort,
  And gallantry doth reign;
A Dardan hero fam'd of old
For youth and beauty, as we're told,
  And by a monarch slain;

III.

A peer of popular applause,
Who doth our violated laws,
  And grievances proclaim.
Th' initials show a vanquish'd town,
That adds fresh glory and renown
  To old Britannia's fame.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley was both the second published African-American poet and first published African-American woman. Born in Senegambia, she was sold into slavery at the age of 7 and transported to North America. She was purchased by the Wheatley family of Boston, who taught her to read and write, and encouraged her poetry when they saw her talent. The publication of her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral brought her fame both in England and the American colonies; figures such as George Washington praised her work. During Wheatley's visit to England with her master's son, the African-American poet Jupiter Hammon praised her work in his own poem. Wheatley was emancipated after the death of her master John Wheatley. She married soon after. Two of her children died as infants. After her husband was imprisoned for debt in 1784, Wheatley fell into poverty and died of illness, quickly followed by the death of her surviving infant son. more…

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