'Thoughts On The Works Of Providence' by Phillis Wheatly

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A R I S E, my soul, on wings enraptur'd, rise
To praise the monarch of the earth and skies,
Whose goodness and benificence appear
As round its centre moves the rolling year,
Or when the morning glows with rosy charms,
Or the sun slumbers in the ocean's arms:
Of light divine be a rich portion lent
To guide my soul, and favour my intend.
Celestial muse, my arduous flight sustain
And raise my mind to a seraphic strain!
Ador'd for ever be the God unseen,
Which round the sun revolves this vast machine,
Though to his eye its mass a point appears:
Ador'd the God that whirls surrounding spheres,
Which first ordain'd that mighty Sol should reign
The peerless monarch of th' ethereal train:
Of miles twice forty millions is his height,
And yet his radiance dazzles mortal sight
So far beneath--from him th' extended earth
Vigour derives, and ev'ry flow'ry birth:
Vast through her orb she moves with easy grace
Around her Phoebus in unbounded space;
True to her course th' impetuous storm derides,
Triumphant o'er the winds, and surging tides.
Almighty, in these wond'rous works of thine,
What Pow'r, what Wisdom, and what Goodness shine!
And are thy wonders, Lord, by men explor'd,
And yet creating glory unador'd!
Creation smiles in various beauty gay,
While day to night, and night succeeds to day:
That Wisdom, which attends Jehovah's ways,
Shines most conspicuous in the solar rays:
Without them, destitute of heat and light,
This world would be the reign of endless night:
In their excess how would our race complain,
Abhorring life! how hate its length'ned chain!
From air adust what num'rous ills would rise?
What dire contagion taint the burning skies?
What pestilential vapours, fraught with death,
Would rise, and overspread the lands beneath?
Hail, smiling morn, that from the orient main
Ascending dost adorn the heav'nly plain!
So rich, so various are thy beauteous dies,
That spread through all the circuit of the skies,
That, full of thee, my soul in rapture soars,
And thy great God, the cause of all adores.
O'er beings infinite his love extends,
His Wisdom rules them, and his Pow'r defends.
When tasks diurnal tire the human frame,
The spirits faint, and dim the vital flame,
Then too that ever active bounty shines,
Which not infinity of space confines.
The sable veil, that Night in silence draws,
Conceals effects, but shows th' Almighty Cause,
Night seals in sleep the wide creation fair,
And all is peaceful but the brow of care.
Again, gay Phoebus, as the day before,
Wakes ev'ry eye, but what shall wake no more;
Again the face of nature is renew'd,
Which still appears harmonious, fair, and good.
May grateful strains salute the smiling morn,
Before its beams the eastern hills adorn!
Shall day to day, and night to night conspire
To show the goodness of the Almighty Sire?
This mental voice shall man regardless hear,
And never, never raise the filial pray'r?
To-day, O hearken, nor your folly mourn
For time mispent, that never will return.
But see the sons of vegetation rise,
And spread their leafy banners to the skies.
All-wise Almighty Providence we trace
In trees, and plants, and all the flow'ry race;
As clear as in the nobler frame of man,
All lovely copies of the Maker's plan.
The pow'r the same that forms a ray of light,
That call d creation from eternal night.
"Let there be light," he said: from his profound
Old Chaos heard, and trembled at the sound:
Swift as the word, inspir'd by pow'r divine,
Behold the light around its Maker shine,
The first fair product of th' omnific God,
And now through all his works diffus'd abroad.
As reason's pow'rs by day our God disclose,
So we may trace him in the night's repose:
Say what is sleep? and dreams how passing strange!
When action ceases, and ideas range
Licentious and unbounded o'er the plains,
Where Fancy's queen in giddy triumph reigns.
Hear in soft strains the dreaming lover sigh
To a kind fair, or rave in jealousy;
On pleasure now, and now on vengeance bent,
The lab'ring passions struggle for a vent.
What pow'r, O man! thy reason then restores,
So long suspended in nocturnal hours?
What secret hand returns the mental train,
And gives improv'd thine active pow'rs again?
From thee, O man, what gratitude should rise!
And, when from balmy sleep thou op'st thine eyes,
Let thy first thoughts be praises to the skies.
How merciful our God who thus imparts
O'erflowing tides of joy to human hearts,
When wants and woes might be our righteous lot,
Our God forgetting, by our God forgot!
Among the mental pow'rs a question rose,
"What most the image of th' Eternal shows?"
When thus to Reason (so let Fancy rove)
Her great companion spoke immortal Love.
"Say, mighty pow'r, how long shall strife prevail,
"And with its murmurs load the whisp'ring gale?
"Refer the cause to Recollection's shrine,
"Who loud proclaims my origin divine,
"The cause whence heav'n and earth began to be,
"And is not man immortaliz'd by me?
"Reason let this most causeless strife subside."
Thus Love pronounc'd, and Reason thus reply'd.
"Thy birth, coelestial queen! 'tis mine to own,
"In thee resplendent is the Godhead shown;
"Thy words persuade, my soul enraptur'd feels
"Resistless beauty which thy smile reveals."
Ardent she spoke, and, kindling at her charms,
She clasp'd the blooming goddess in her arms.
Infinite Love where'er we turn our eyes
Appears: this ev'ry creature's wants supplies;
This most is heard in Nature's constant voice,
This makes the morn, and this the eve rejoice;
This bids the fost'ring rains and dews descend
To nourish all, to serve one gen'ral end,
The good of man: yet man ungrateful pays
But little homage, and but little praise.
To him, whose works arry'd with mercy shine,
What songs should rise, how constant, how divine!

Editor 1 Interpretation

"Thoughts On The Works Of Providence" by Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley's "Thoughts On The Works Of Providence" is a masterpiece that showcases the beauty and complexity of her poetic voice. This work is an expression of her deep faith and her belief in divine providence. In this literary criticism, I will provide an in-depth analysis of the themes, literary techniques, and historical context of this poem.

Historical Context

Phillis Wheatley was born in West Africa and was brought to America as a slave at the age of seven. She was purchased by John Wheatley, a wealthy Bostonian, and was educated by him and his family. Wheatley's poetry became famous in the 18th century, and she was the first African-American woman to publish a book of poetry.

In "Thoughts On The Works Of Providence," Wheatley expresses her Christian faith and her belief in the providence of God. This poem was written during a time when slavery was prevalent in America, and her poetry was a reflection of her experiences as a slave and her religious beliefs.


The primary theme of this poem is divine providence. Wheatley believes that God is in control of everything and that everything happens for a reason. She acknowledges that there are many things in life that are difficult to understand, but she trusts that God has a plan for everything.

Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the idea of suffering. Wheatley acknowledges that life can be difficult and that there are many hardships that people have to endure. However, she believes that suffering is a necessary part of life, and that it is ultimately for our own good.

Literary Techniques

Wheatley uses a variety of literary techniques to convey her message in "Thoughts On The Works Of Providence." One of the most prominent techniques is the use of biblical allusions. Throughout the poem, Wheatley references various stories and characters from the Bible in order to illustrate her points.

Another technique that Wheatley employs is the use of metaphors and similes. For example, she compares the trials of life to the refining of gold. She also compares the love of God to a river that flows endlessly.

Wheatley's use of imagery is also noteworthy. She uses vivid descriptions to paint a picture of the world around her. For example, she describes the "beaming sun" and the "silver moon." Her use of sensory details helps to make the poem come alive.


"Thoughts On The Works Of Providence" is a poem that is rich in meaning and interpretation. One possible interpretation is that Wheatley is using the poem as a way to cope with the hardships of slavery. She acknowledges that life can be difficult, but she trusts in God's plan and believes that everything happens for a reason.

Another interpretation is that Wheatley is using the poem as a way to express her religious beliefs. She is a devout Christian, and she sees the hand of God in everything around her. The poem is a reflection of her unwavering faith in God and his providence.

Overall, "Thoughts On The Works Of Providence" is a beautiful and powerful poem that showcases Wheatley's immense talent as a poet. Her use of literary techniques and her powerful message make this poem a timeless masterpiece.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Thoughts On The Works Of Providence by Phillis Wheatley is a classic piece of literature that has stood the test of time. This poem is a beautiful expression of the author's faith in God and her belief in the power of divine providence. In this article, we will take a detailed look at this poem and explore its themes, structure, and significance.

Phillis Wheatley was an African American poet who was born in Senegal and brought to America as a slave. She was purchased by the Wheatley family in Boston, Massachusetts, who recognized her intelligence and talent. They provided her with an education and encouraged her to pursue her passion for writing. Wheatley's poetry was groundbreaking for its time, as it challenged the prevailing beliefs about the intellectual abilities of African Americans.

Poetry Thoughts On The Works Of Providence is a religious poem that explores the concept of divine providence. The poem is divided into three sections, each of which explores a different aspect of this theme. The first section focuses on the power of God's providence in the natural world. Wheatley describes the beauty and majesty of nature, and how it reflects the glory of God. She writes:

"Nature, with open volume, stands To spread her Maker's praise abroad, And every labor of His hands Shows something worthy of a God."

In these lines, Wheatley emphasizes the idea that the natural world is a testament to God's power and creativity. She suggests that every aspect of nature, from the smallest insect to the largest mountain, is a reflection of God's greatness.

The second section of the poem focuses on the role of divine providence in human history. Wheatley describes how God has guided the course of human events, from the creation of the world to the present day. She writes:

"His providence unfolds the book, And makes His counsels shine; Each opening leaf, and every stroke, Fulfills some deep design."

In these lines, Wheatley suggests that God has a plan for human history, and that every event is part of that plan. She emphasizes the idea that even the most difficult and challenging moments in history are part of God's larger purpose.

The third and final section of the poem focuses on the role of divine providence in the lives of individuals. Wheatley describes how God guides and protects each person, and how His love and mercy are always present. She writes:

"His eye beholds the path they tread, His heart approves it too; And when the mortal scene is fled, His mercy will renew."

In these lines, Wheatley emphasizes the idea that God is always watching over us, and that His love and mercy are always present. She suggests that even in the darkest moments of our lives, we can find comfort and hope in the knowledge that God is with us.

The structure of Poetry Thoughts On The Works Of Providence is simple but effective. The poem is written in rhyming couplets, which give it a musical quality. The use of repetition and parallelism also adds to the poem's rhythmic flow. For example, in the first section of the poem, Wheatley repeats the phrase "worthy of a God" several times, emphasizing the idea that every aspect of nature reflects God's greatness.

The significance of Poetry Thoughts On The Works Of Providence lies in its message of hope and faith. Wheatley's poem is a powerful reminder that even in the most difficult moments of our lives, we can find comfort and strength in our faith in God. The poem also challenges the prevailing beliefs of Wheatley's time about the intellectual abilities of African Americans. By writing such a powerful and eloquent poem, Wheatley demonstrated that African Americans were capable of producing great works of literature.

In conclusion, Poetry Thoughts On The Works Of Providence by Phillis Wheatley is a classic poem that explores the theme of divine providence. The poem is a beautiful expression of the author's faith in God and her belief in the power of divine guidance. The poem's structure and language are simple but effective, and its message of hope and faith is as relevant today as it was when it was first written. Wheatley's poem is a testament to the power of literature to inspire and uplift, and it remains a timeless masterpiece of American literature.

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