To the esteemed Phillis Wheatley (1753-1783)

It is Week 4 of the 10 Premodern Poems by Women public online course by Stanford University. It has been interesting to read poems written by women in the 17th and 18th centuries and learn about the lives of the poets themselves. To visit the Stanford University public online courses page, click here.

Phillis Wheatley wrote a poem to the Earl of Dartmouth. So my task was to write a poem to Phillis Wheatley. My poem was written in the style of a terza rima – an Italian form of poetry first used by Dante Alighieri. A terza rima consists of stanzas of three lines (or tercets). It follows an interlocking rhyming scheme, or chain rhyme – the middle of each stanza rhymes with the first and last line of the following stanza. However, there is no set length to this form, as long as it follows the pattern as follows: ABA, BCB, CDC, DED… The last stanza will be a couplet rhyming with the middle line of the previous stanza. In this case, EE. On top of the terza rima rhyming scheme, I decided to make each line ten syllables long.

So, here’s the poem. I envisioned it as a present to Phillis, the first African American poet, as she is given her freedom. It is a poem of encouragement to her. 🙂

To the esteemed Phillis Wheatley (1753-1783)

My lady, greetings and I bid you well
A bud, unfurling into vibrant bloom
Bright, gifted, full of promise, one can tell

Not destined to work long hours on the loom
Well read and learned, a lady well trained
Enter and you light up the entire room

Heaven smiles upon you, without refrain
Child of Africa, bought a slave, now free
Illustrious future awaits, preordained

Don’t squander your youth; be all you can be
Be brave and strike forth; adventure awaits
The world is your oyster, wouldn’t you agree?

Your hopes and dreams await outside the gates
Don’t give up though hardship doesn’t abate

An original poem by
Khor Hui Min
28 April 2015

Oh, and it’s National Poetry Writing Month in the USA (NaNoWriPo) now. Lots of people are writing a poem every day for a whole month. 😉

White rhododendron in full bloom at Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei, Taiwan. Photo taken on 13 March 2015.
White rhododendron in full bloom at Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei, Taiwan. Photo taken on 13 March 2015.

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