A Funeral Poem on the Death of C.E.

by


A Funeral Poem on the Death of C. E., An Infant of Twelve Months is featured in Wheatley's collection, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), published while she was still a slave. Wheatley was emancipated three years later.
THROUGH airy roads he wings his instant flight
  To purer regions of celestial light;
  Enlarg'd he sees unnumber'd systems roll,
  Beneath him sees the universal whole,
  Planets on planets run their destin'd round,
  And circling wonders fill the vast profound.
  Th' ethereal now, and now th' empyreal skies
  With growing splendors strike his wond'ring eyes:
  The angels view him with delight unknown,
  Press his soft hand, and seat him on his throne;
  Then smilling thus: "To this divine abode,
  "The seat of saints, of seraphs, and of God,
  "Thrice welcome thou." The raptur'd babe replies,
  "Thanks to my God, who snatch'd me to the skies,
  "E'er vice triumphant had possess'd my heart,
  "E'er yet the tempter had beguil d my heart,
  "E'er yet on sin's base actions I was bent,
  "E'er yet I knew temptation's dire intent;
  "E'er yet the lash for horrid crimes I felt,
  "E'er vanity had led my way to guilt,
  "But, soon arriv'd at my celestial goal,
  "Full glories rush on my expanding soul."
  Joyful he spoke: exulting cherubs round
  Clapt their glad wings, the heav'nly vaults resound.
    Say, parents, why this unavailing moan?
  Why heave your pensive bosoms with the groan?
  To Charles, the happy subject of my song,
  A brighter world, and nobler strains belong.
  Say would you tear him from the realms above
  By thoughtless wishes, and prepost'rous love?
  Doth his felicity increase your pain?
  Or could you welcome to this world again
  The heir of bliss? with a superior air
  Methinks he answers with a smile severe,
  "Thrones and dominions cannot tempt me there."
    But still you cry, "Can we the sigh forbear,
  "And still and still must we not pour the tear?
  "Our only hope, more dear than vital breath,
  "Twelve moons revolv'd, becomes the prey of death;
  "Delightful infant, nightly visions give
  "Thee to our arms, and we with joy receive,
  "We fain would clasp the Phantom to our breast,
  "The Phantom flies, and leaves the soul unblest."
    To yon bright regions let your faith ascend,
  Prepare to join your dearest infant friend
  In pleasures without measure, without end.

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Return to the Phillis Wheatley Home Page, or . . . Read the next poem; An Hymn to the Evening

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