Words of Wisdom:

"Shabazz" - Nguyen

Slave Irony

  • Date Submitted: 05/05/2014 05:36 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 50.9 
  • Words: 259
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The poems “On Being Brought from Africa to America” by Phillis Wheatley and “A letter from Phillis Wheatley” by Robert Hayden, although written from different poets, share similar perspectives on the treatment and views of slaves in America and reveal a contradiction between Christianity and racism towards slaves.
In the first line of Wheatley’s poem, she speaks of the mercy she feels from God by being brought out from her “Pagan land” suggesting that she is grateful because as a result of this she was introduced to Christianity. However, the rest of the poem expresses how white people, these said Christians, look at black people with scorn as if to not let them forget that they are just slaves. There is an ironic tone at the end of the poem, as Wheatley makes a suggestion that white Christians should practice their [Christian] beliefs and remember that black people are also saved by God.
Using Wheatley’s voice, Hayden also begins his poem stating that her voyage was “Destined” and how she “marvels on God’s Ways.” By using Wheatley’s voice, Hayden accomplishes to portray how Wheatley criticizes the way she is treated being a black poetess. When she is taken to dinner to be presented among white folks, they all marvel at her poems but make her sit at a different table like “captive Royalty.” Wheatley also expresses about the resentment she still feels from white people when she states, “there is no Eden without its Serpent” and explains how she is not oblivious to people speaking badly of her.


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