“Dear to your Country shall your Fame extend”

Phillis Wheatley, considered the first black poet in America (see posts concerning her here, here, here, and here), was an enslaved servant who at the age of seventeen was living in Boston with her owners, the Wheatleys, on the corner of King Street and Mackeral Lane not far from where the Boston Massacre took place on March 5, 1770. A poem attributed to her, “On the Affray in King Street, on the Evening of the 5th of March 1770” was published in the Boston Evening-Post on March 12. Her sympathies clearly lie with the Patriot cause. A transcription follows the image.

With Fire enwrapt, surcharged with sudden Death,
Lo, the pois’d Tube convolves it’s fatal Breath!
The flying Ball with heav’n-directed Force.
Rids the free Spirit of it’s fallen Corse.
Well fated Shades! let no unmanly Tear
From Pity’s Eye, distain your honour’d Bier:
Lost to their View, surviving Friends may mourn,
Yet o’er thy Pile shall Flames celestial burn;
Long as in Freedom’s Cause the Wise contend.
Dear to your Country shall your Fame extend;
While to the World, the letter’d Stone shall tell,
How Caldwell, Attucks, Grey and Mav’rick fell.

James Caldwell, Crispus Attucks (a mulatto), Samuel Grey, and Samuel Maverick, referred to in the poem, died immediately. A fifth, Patrick Carr, died the next day.

The image is from the Boston Evening-Post, 12 March 1770.

posted July 7th, 2014 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Boston, Patriots, Poetry, Slaves/slavery

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