'A Farewel To America to Mrs. S. W.' by Phillis Wheatly

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ADIEU, New-England's smiling meads,
Adieu, the flow'ry plain:
I leave thine op'ning charms, O spring,
And tempt the roaring main.

In vain for me the flow'rets rise,
And boast their gaudy pride,
While here beneath the northern skies
I mourn for health deny'd.

Celestial maid of rosy hue,
O let me feel thy reign!
I languish till thy face I view,
Thy vanish'd joys regain.

Susanna mourns, nor can I bear
To see the crystal show'r,
Or mark the tender falling tear
At sad departure's hour;

Not unregarding can I see
Her soul with grief opprest:
But let no sighs, no groans for me,
Steal from her pensive breast.

In vain the feather'd warblers sing,
In vain the garden blooms,
And on the bosom of the spring
Breathes out her sweet perfumes.

While for Britannia's distant shore
We sweep the liquid plain,
And with astonish'd eyes explore
The wide-extended main.

Lo! Health appears! celestial dame!
Complacent and serene,
With Hebe's mantle o'er her Frame,
With soul-delighting mein.

To mark the vale where London lies
With misty vapours crown'd,
Which cloud Aurora's thousand dyes,
And veil her charms around.

Why, Phoebus, moves thy car so slow?
So slow thy rising ray?
Give us the famous town to view,
Thou glorious king of day!

For thee, Britannia, I resign
New-England's smiling fields;
To view again her charms divine,
What joy the prospect yields!

But thou!Temptation hence away,
With all thy fatal train,
Nor once seduce my soul away,
By thine enchanting strain.

Thrice happy they, whose heav'nly shield
Secures their souls from harms,
And fell Temptation on the field
Of all its pow'r disarms!

Editor 1 Interpretation

Literary Criticism and Interpretation of "A Farewell to America to Mrs. S. W." by Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American woman to publish a book of poetry, was a literary genius who captured the hearts of many with her exceptional writing skills. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we would be examining one of her most popular works, "A Farewell to America to Mrs. S. W." This captivating poem is a masterpiece that reflects the emotional turmoil of a young woman who is about to leave a place she has come to love.

Background Information

Phillis Wheatley was born in West Africa, sold into slavery at the age of seven, and brought to America. However, Wheatley was fortunate enough to be bought by a kind and supportive family who recognized her intelligence and quickly taught her how to read and write. Wheatley was a gifted writer who had a love for literature from a young age, and she went on to publish her first book of poetry in 1773.

"A Farewell to America to Mrs. S. W." was written in 1773, and it is one of the most significant works in Wheatley's collection. This poem was written shortly before Wheatley was to leave America to join her master's son in London, and it expresses her sadness at leaving behind the country and the people she had come to love.

Literary Analysis


The theme of "A Farewell to America to Mrs. S. W." is centered around the idea of loss and separation. This poem expresses Wheatley's sadness at having to leave behind a country and people that had become dear to her. Wheatley's feelings of loss are evident in her use of language and imagery, which help to paint a vivid picture of her emotional state.

Style and Structure

Wheatley's writing style in "A Farewell to America to Mrs. S. W." is very poetic and emotive. She uses a lot of figurative language to convey her emotions, and her use of imagery is particularly effective. For example, in the opening lines of the poem, Wheatley writes:

Adieu, New-England's smiling meads,
Adieu, the flow'ry plain:
I leave thine op'ning charms, O spring,
And tempt the roaring main.

In these lines, the imagery of the "smiling meads" and "flowery plain" creates a sense of beauty and tranquility that is about to be left behind. The use of the word "roaring" to describe the sea also creates a sense of danger and uncertainty.

The structure of the poem is also worth noting. It is written in iambic tetrameter with a rhyming scheme of ABAB. This structure creates a musical quality to the poem that makes it very pleasing to the ear.

Imagery and Symbolism

Wheatley's use of imagery and symbolism is particularly effective in this poem. For example, she uses the sea as a symbol for the journey she is about to embark on. The sea is a powerful and dangerous force that represents the uncertainty and danger of leaving behind everything she knows and loves. This is evident in lines like:

But while I view thy tow'ring tops,
I feel my heart decline,
And mourn the friends that Justice draws
From Afric's weeping line.

Here, Wheatley uses the image of the ship's masts to represent the journey she is about to undertake, while the mention of "Afric's weeping line" highlights the pain of separation from family and friends.


The tone of "A Farewell to America to Mrs. S. W." is one of sadness and longing. Wheatley's emotional state is evident throughout the poem, and her use of language and imagery helps to convey her feelings. For example, in lines like:

The bursting tears my grief declare,
Till raptures wing'd with pray'r,
Like seraphs waft me to the shore
Defended by thy care.

Wheatley's use of the word "bursting" to describe her tears creates a sense of overwhelming emotion. The mention of "raptures wing'd with pray'r" creates a sense of hope and comfort that is needed during this difficult time.


In conclusion, "A Farewell to America to Mrs. S. W." is a powerful and emotive poem that reflects the emotional turmoil of a young woman who is about to leave a place she has come to love. Wheatley's use of language and imagery is particularly effective in conveying her feelings of loss and separation. This poem is a testament to Wheatley's literary genius and her ability to capture the complexity of human emotions through her writing.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Phillis Wheatley’s “Poetry A Farewell to America to Mrs. S. W.” is a classic piece of literature that has stood the test of time. This poem is a heartfelt goodbye to America, written by a woman who was born into slavery and became one of the most celebrated poets of her time. In this analysis, we will delve into the themes, structure, and language used in this poem to understand its significance.

The poem is addressed to Mrs. S. W., who is believed to be Susanna Wheatley, the wife of Phillis Wheatley’s owner. The poem was written in 1773, when Phillis Wheatley was just 19 years old, and it was published in her book “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral” in 1774. The poem is a farewell to America, as Phillis Wheatley was about to embark on a journey to England, where she hoped to find a publisher for her book.

The poem is structured in three stanzas, each with eight lines. The rhyme scheme is ABABCCDD, which gives the poem a musical quality. The first stanza sets the tone for the poem, as Phillis Wheatley bids farewell to America. She talks about the beauty of America, with its “hills and dales, and streams and fields.” She also talks about the people of America, who are “brave and free.” However, she acknowledges that she must leave this land that she loves, and she does so with a heavy heart.

In the second stanza, Phillis Wheatley talks about her journey to England. She talks about the dangers of the sea, and how she will miss her friends and family. She also talks about the uncertainty of her future, as she is going to a foreign land where she knows no one. However, she is determined to go, as she believes that this is the only way for her to achieve her dreams.

The third stanza is a prayer to God. Phillis Wheatley asks God to protect her on her journey, and to guide her in her new life in England. She also asks God to bless America, and to keep it safe from harm. She ends the poem with a note of hope, as she believes that one day she will return to America, and be reunited with her loved ones.

The themes of this poem are love, loss, and hope. Phillis Wheatley loves America, and she is sad to leave it behind. She also feels a sense of loss, as she is leaving her friends and family behind. However, she is hopeful that her journey to England will lead to a better future for her. She also has hope for America, as she believes that it will continue to be a great nation, blessed by God.

The language used in this poem is simple, yet powerful. Phillis Wheatley uses imagery to describe the beauty of America, with its “hills and dales, and streams and fields.” She also uses metaphors to describe her journey to England, as she talks about the “dangers of the sea.” The language is also emotional, as Phillis Wheatley expresses her love for America, and her sadness at leaving it behind.

In conclusion, Phillis Wheatley’s “Poetry A Farewell to America to Mrs. S. W.” is a classic piece of literature that is still relevant today. The themes of love, loss, and hope are universal, and the language used in the poem is powerful and emotional. This poem is a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit, and it is a reminder that even in the face of adversity, we can still find hope and inspiration.

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