'On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall' by Phillis Wheatly

AI and Tech Aggregator
Download Mp3s Free
Tears of the Kingdom Roleplay
Best Free University Courses Online
TOTK Roleplay

THROUGH thickest glooms look back, immortal
On that confusion which thy death has made:
Or from Olympus' height look down, and see
A Town involv'd in grief bereft of thee.
Thy Lucy sees thee mingle with the dead,
And rends the graceful tresses from her head,
Wild in her woe, with grief unknown opprest
Sigh follows sigh deep heaving from her breast.
Too quickly fled, ah! whither art thou gone?
Ah! lost for ever to thy wife and son!
The hapless child, thine only hope and heir,
Clings round his mother's neck, and weeps his sorrows
The loss of thee on Tyler's soul returns,
And Boston for her dear physician mourns.
When sickness call'd for Marshall's healing hand,
With what compassion did his soul expand?
In him we found the father and the friend:
In life how lov'd! how honour'd in his end!
And must not then our AEsculapius stay
To bring his ling'ring infant into day?
The babe unborn in the dark womb is tost,
And seems in anguish for its father lost.
Gone is Apollo from his house of earth,
But leaves the sweet memorials of his worth:
The common parent, whom we all deplore,
From yonder world unseen must come no more,
Yet 'midst our woes immortal hopes attend
The spouse, the sire, the universal friend.

Editor 1 Interpretation

On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall by Phillis Wheatley

Have you ever read a poem that was so powerful and moving that you were left in awe of the writer's skill and emotion? That's exactly what I experienced when I first read On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall by Phillis Wheatley. This classic poem is a masterpiece of literary criticism and interpretation, not only because of its superb writing style but also because of its poignant message about mortality and the brevity of life.

Phillis Wheatley was an 18th-century African-American poet who was born in West Africa and sold into slavery at the age of seven. She was purchased by the Wheatley family in Boston and given an education by her owners. Wheatley found solace in writing and eventually became the first African-American woman to publish a book of poetry. Her works were characterized by their themes of Christianity, slavery, and freedom.

On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall is a sonnet that Wheatley wrote in memory of her friend and mentor, Dr. Samuel Marshall. The poem is a tribute to Marshall's life and accomplishments, but it is also an exploration of the nature of death and the human condition. Wheatley uses vivid imagery and emotive language to convey the fragility of life and the inevitability of death.

The poem begins with a powerful image of Marshall's passing:

"Ah me! another warning voice I hear,
Methinks I see the solemn funeral train;
The mourners' cypress wreaths, the sable bier,
The long procession of the silent slain."

In these lines, Wheatley creates a vivid picture of Marshall's funeral procession. The mourners' cypress wreaths and the sable bier evoke a sense of sadness and loss. The long procession of the silent slain is a powerful metaphor for death and the inevitability of our own mortality.

Wheatley goes on to describe the impact of Marshall's death on those who knew him:

"Here Friendship weeps, and tender Pity mourns,
The rising grief expands the female breast;
And while the tragic scene our view adorns,
Our souls are with the dear departed blest."

In these lines, Wheatley captures the universal human experience of grief and loss. The impact of Marshall's death is felt by all who knew him, and the tragedy of his passing inspires both tears and fond memories. Wheatley's use of the word "blest" is particularly poignant, suggesting that Marshall's life was a blessing to those who knew him, even in death.

The sonnet continues with a vivid description of Marshall's accomplishments and legacy:

"But, O! fled spirit, whither hast thou flown?
To what bright region, to what happier shore,
On angel's wings, thy parting soul has flown,
And left thy friends and weeping country sore."

In these lines, Wheatley imagines Marshall's soul ascending to a brighter, happier realm. The use of the word "angel's wings" suggests that Marshall's passing was not only a physical one, but a spiritual one as well. Wheatley suggests that Marshall's legacy will live on, even as his physical presence is gone.

The final lines of the sonnet are a powerful meditation on the nature of death and the human experience:

"Yet, while the vital current feeds the heart,
We love, though all the joys of sense depart;
And, when its streams forsake their wonted course,
The soul survives, beyond this earthly force."

Wheatley suggests that even though our physical bodies will eventually fail us, our capacity for love and emotion will endure. The soul, she suggests, is immortal and will outlast the physical body. This is an uplifting message, reminding us that even in the face of death, there is hope and meaning to be found.

In conclusion, On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall is a powerful and moving poem that explores the themes of mortality, grief, and the human experience. Wheatley's use of vivid imagery and emotive language creates a powerful tribute to her friend and mentor, while also reminding us of the fragility and beauty of life. This sonnet is a masterpiece of literary criticism and interpretation, and a testament to Wheatley's skill as a poet. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend that you do.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall: A Masterpiece by Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley, an African-American poet, was one of the most prominent literary figures of the 18th century. Her works were not only remarkable for their literary merit but also for their social and political significance. One of her most celebrated poems is "Poetry On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall," which is a tribute to her former master and mentor. In this article, we will analyze and explain this classic poem and explore its themes, structure, and significance.


Phillis Wheatley was born in West Africa and was brought to America as a slave when she was seven years old. She was purchased by John Wheatley, a wealthy Bostonian, who recognized her intelligence and potential. He and his wife, Susanna, treated her as a member of their family and provided her with an education that was rare for a slave. Wheatley showed an early talent for poetry, and her first published work, "An Elegiac Poem, on the Death of that Celebrated Divine, and Eminent Servant of Jesus Christ, the Reverend and Learned George Whitefield," was published in 1770 when she was only 14 years old.

Dr. Samuel Marshall was a prominent figure in Boston and a close friend of the Wheatley family. He was a physician, a politician, and a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He was also a supporter of the American Revolution and a signatory of the Declaration of Independence. He died in 1771, and Wheatley wrote "Poetry On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall" as a tribute to him.


The poem is a meditation on death and the afterlife. Wheatley reflects on the inevitability of death and the uncertainty of what comes after. She writes, "Where is the saint, that often trod this way, / Who bore the heat and burden of the day, / Who made the wicked tremble at his frown, / And poured the balm of consolation down?" She wonders where Marshall is now and what his fate is. She also contemplates her own mortality and the fact that she too will one day die.

The poem also celebrates Marshall's life and achievements. Wheatley praises him as a "friend to science, and the Muses' friend," and notes his contributions to medicine and politics. She writes, "The healing art, with him, retir'd from view, / And death, relentless, hasten'd to pursue; / Yet, ere he clos'd his eyes in endless night, / He saw his country's freedom dawning bright." Marshall was a patriot who fought for American independence, and Wheatley honors him for his service to his country.


The poem is written in heroic couplets, a form that was popular in the 18th century. Heroic couplets consist of two rhyming lines of iambic pentameter. Wheatley uses this form to create a sense of order and symmetry in the poem. Each couplet is a complete thought, and the rhyme scheme (ABAB) reinforces the sense of closure and finality that comes with death.

The poem is divided into three sections. The first section (lines 1-16) sets the scene and establishes the theme of death. The second section (lines 17-48) celebrates Marshall's life and achievements. The third section (lines 49-64) concludes the poem with a reflection on the afterlife.


"Poetry On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall" is significant for several reasons. First, it is a testament to Wheatley's talent as a poet. Her use of language and imagery is masterful, and her ability to convey complex emotions is impressive. The poem is a testament to the power of poetry to express the inexpressible.

Second, the poem is a tribute to Marshall and his legacy. Wheatley honors him for his contributions to medicine, politics, and the American Revolution. She also celebrates his friendship with her and the Wheatley family. The poem is a reminder of the importance of friendship and the impact that one person can have on the lives of others.

Finally, the poem is significant for its social and political implications. Wheatley was a slave, and her success as a poet challenged the prevailing beliefs about the intellectual and creative abilities of African-Americans. Her poetry was a form of resistance to the dehumanizing effects of slavery and a testament to the power of education and self-expression. "Poetry On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall" is a reminder of the resilience and creativity of enslaved people and their ability to find meaning and purpose in the face of adversity.


"Poetry On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall" is a masterpiece of 18th-century poetry. It is a tribute to a remarkable man and a reflection on the nature of life and death. It is also a testament to the power of poetry to express complex emotions and ideas. Phillis Wheatley's legacy as a poet and a symbol of resistance to slavery is secure, and this poem is a testament to her talent and her vision.

Editor Recommended Sites

LLM training course: Find the best guides, tutorials and courses on LLM fine tuning for the cloud, on-prem
Kubectl Tips: Kubectl command line tips for the kubernetes ecosystem
Networking Place: Networking social network, similar to linked-in, but for your business and consulting services
Neo4j App: Neo4j tutorials for graph app deployment
Realtime Data: Realtime data for streaming and processing

Recommended Similar Analysis

Carmel Point by Robinson Jeffers analysis
Sonnet 19 by John Milton analysis
Ready To Kill by Carl Sandburg analysis
How To Paint A Water Lily by Ted Hughes analysis
To The Daisy (first poem) by William Wordsworth analysis
Quadroon Girl, The by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow analysis
Binsey Poplars Felled /79 by Gerard Manley Hopkins analysis
Not My Enemies Ever Invade Me by Walt Whitman analysis
Vanitas Vanitatum, Omnia Vanitas by Anne Brontë analysis
Volcanoes be in Sicily by Emily Dickinson analysis