“To S.M., a Young African Painter On Seeing His Works” by Phyllis Wheatley
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The poem “To S.M., a Young African Painter On Seeing His Works” by Phyllis Wheatley, is one that contains angelic details and description. Upon seeing this young artist’s work, Wheatley was so moved that she wrote this poem.
She makes this clear in line five by saying, “How did those prospects give my soul delight.” Then Wheatley follows this line with, “A new creation rushing on my sight?” She expresses how inspired she is to see this piece of art.
Wheatley continues to glorify the artist by complimenting his “wondrous youth” in line seven. To Wheatley this artist in pursuing a path to prove that great art can be accomplished by all races. In line nine she describes their will to persevere and overcome suppression as “fire”. This fire will continue to help them produce poetry and paintings that will help their race fight against racism and prejudice.
In line fourteen, “Elate thy soul, and raise thy wishful eyes”, Wheatley tells the painter to be proud and to keep his head up high. She knows that it is possible that one day there might be equality, she asks the painter to have hope in his accomplishments and to again persevere.
Wheatley continues with angelic description with lines nineteen and twenty. She writes, “Calm and serene thy moments glide along, and may the muse inspire each future song!” This young painter has become her artistic inspiration. She hails him for how he interprets beauty and transfers in his artwork. She wishes for her muse to inspire more poems like this one.
Lines twenty-three and twenty-four, Wheatley assures the painter, “when these shades of time are chased away, And darkness ends in everlasting day.” I believe Wheatley is telling the young painter that soon the shades or time, or racist and prejudice times will be chased away. Then all that will be left will be “everlasting day” or peace.
Wheatley, throughout the poem, talks of celestial and heavenly descriptions because the suppression stemmed from racism and prejudice emotions is pure evil. But upon seeing this young African artist’s work she is so moved, that she herself is inspired to write this poem. Both of them are now creating art that is accepted into society.
Wheatley knows that these are the first steps to equality and understanding, acceptance. She rejoices throughout this poem, praising the artist for his contribution, inspiration, and work of sheer beauty.