Quote of the Moment: American poet Phillis Wheatley, the drive for freedom

February 19, 2018

Poet Phillis Wheatley at the Boston Women's Memorial; Lucy Stone in the background.

Phillis Wheatley at the Boston Women’s Memorial; Lucy Stone in the background.

Phillis Wheatley lived as a slave in Boston, Massachusetts, during the American Revolution. Because she wrote so well, she avoided many of the problems of slavery until her master died. She died a few years later, in poverty, never achieving the fame or income she deserved.

She wrote about the Love of Freedom:

. . . in every human Breast, God has implanted a Principle, which we call Love of Freedom; it is impatient of Oppression, and pants for Deliverance … the same Principle lives in us.

Letter to the Reverend Samson Occom, February 11, 1774

Wheatley is featured in a stunning sculpture in Boston’s Women’s Memorial, with Abigail Adams and Lucy Stone.

Boston Women's Memorial at the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, featuring Phillis Wheatley, Lucy Stone and Abigail Adams.

Boston Women’s Memorial at the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, featuring Phillis Wheatley, Lucy Stone and Abigail Adams.

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Phillis Wheatley: Poem for General Washington, on Presidents Day

February 19, 2018

What is a good flag flying occasion without some inspiring poetry?

Get your flag up (if it’s not up already), and read some poetry from a remarkable woman, in this encore post.

Wheatley called this a poem to “His Excellency General Washington.” Sadly, she died in 1784, so she never got to see him as president.

From the Poem-a-Day folks at the American Academy of Poets:

His Excellency General Washington
by Phillis Wheatley

George Washington

George Washington, as he appears on the one-dollar bill.

Celestial choir! enthron’d in realms of light,
Columbia’s scenes of glorious toils I write.
While freedom’s cause her anxious breast alarms,
She flashes dreadful in refulgent arms.
See mother earth her offspring’s fate bemoan,
And nations gaze at scenes before unknown!
See the bright beams of heaven’s revolving light
Involved in sorrows and the veil of night!

The Goddess comes, she moves divinely fair,
Olive and laurel binds Her golden hair:
Wherever shines this native of the skies,
Unnumber’d charms and recent graces rise.

Muse! Bow propitious while my pen relates
How pour her armies through a thousand gates,
As when Eolus heaven’s fair face deforms,
Enwrapp’d in tempest and a night of storms;
Astonish’d ocean feels the wild uproar,
The refluent surges beat the sounding shore;
Or think as leaves in Autumn’s golden reign,
Such, and so many, moves the warrior’s train.
In bright array they seek the work of war,
Where high unfurl’d the ensign waves in air.
Shall I to Washington their praise recite?
Enough thou know’st them in the fields of fight.
Thee, first in peace and honors—we demand
The grace and glory of thy martial band.
Fam’d for thy valour, for thy virtues more,
Hear every tongue thy guardian aid implore!

One century scarce perform’d its destined round,
When Gallic powers Columbia’s fury found;
And so may you, whoever dares disgrace
The land of freedom’s heaven-defended race!
Fix’d are the eyes of nations on the scales,
For in their hopes Columbia’s arm prevails.
Anon Britannia droops the pensive head,
While round increase the rising hills of dead.
Ah! Cruel blindness to Columbia’s state!
Lament thy thirst of boundless power too late.

Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy side,
Thy ev’ry action let the Goddess guide.
A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine,
With gold unfading, WASHINGTON! Be thine.

American Poet Phyllis Wheatley, detail from the Boston Women's Memorial on Commonwealth Ave.

American Poet Phillis Wheatley, detail from the Boston Women’s Memorial on Commonwealth Ave.

Who was the inspiring woman, Phillis Wheatley? Read her biography at the Academy of American Poets site.

Phillis Wheatley was the first black poet in America to publish a book. She was born around 1753 in West Africa and brought to New England in 1761, where John Wheatley of Boston purchased her as a gift for his wife. Although they brought her into the household as a slave, the Wheatleys took a great interest in Phillis’s education. Many biographers have pointed to her precocity; Wheatley learned to read and write English by the age of nine, and she became familiar with Latin, Greek, the Bible, and selected classics at an early age. She began writing poetry at thirteen, modeling her work on the English poets of the time, particularly John Milton, Thomas Gray, and Alexander Pope. Her poem “On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield” was published as a broadside in cities such as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia and garnered Wheatley national acclaim. This poem was also printed in London. Over the next few years, she would print a number of broadsides elegizing prominent English and colonial leaders.

More, at the AAP site.

Remember to fly your flag today, February 19, for Presidents Day. If you wish, you may fly it again on February 22, the birthday of George Washington (on the Gregorian Calendar).

This is an encore post.

Yes, this is an encore post. Defeating ignorance takes patience and perseverance.


Annals of Global Warming: Bering Sea lost a third of its ice in eight days

February 17, 2018

What will we tell our grandchildren we did to save the planet, when we heard this news?

One third of the ice gone, in about one week BEFORE spring.

twitter.com/insideclimate/status/964848153559228416


Fake news poisons the reader

February 15, 2018

Graphic from Finance Monthly

Graphic from Finance Monthly

We’ve seen the studies that people who get suckered by hoaxes, when confronted with the facts, defend the hoax.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that a little further research shows that faked news stories generally fall into the memory of people, even after they’ve seen the debunkings and acknowledge the hoax.

We can still hate it, but we shouldn’t be surprised.

First impressions stick, and they color our judgments of people and news (and history) even after we learn the impression was given to us incorrectly. We can’t fix errors of judgment easily. Scientific American’s blog reports on several pieces of research into the phenomena.

Which means, it’s not enough to just counter fake news and hoaxes. We have to prevent them from being the first out of the starting gate, and get accurate information out early.

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Russian robot Twitter accounts – you there?

February 15, 2018

twitter.com/selectedwisdom/status/963757735992090625


Fly your flag, a Valentine for Oregon and Arizona

February 14, 2018

From the Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers: A Stamp printed in 1959 for the Oregon Centennial shows a covered Wagon and Mount Hood Oregon

From the Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers: A Stamp printed in 1959 for the Oregon Centennial shows a covered Wagon and Mount Hood Oregon

Flags are flying in Oregon and Arizona on Valentine’s Day 2018?

It’s statehood day in both of those states.

Legally, nothing stops a resident from flying the U.S. flag following protocol on any day.  Yes, you may fly your U.S. flag on Valentine’s Day.

The Flag Code urges flying the flag on the day a state achieved statehood, too.

For Oregon and Arizona, there is an expectation that residents will fly their flags.  Oregon came into the union on February 14, 1859; Arizona joined the Republic as a state in 1912.

Taft signs Arizona statehood papers, February 14, 1912

President William Howard Taft signed the papers accepting Arizona into statehood, on February 14, 1912. He still finished third behind Democrat Woodrow Wilson and Bullmoose Party’s Teddy Roosevelt in that fall’s elections. Photo found at Mrs. Convir’s page, Balboa Magnet School  (Can you identify others in the photo?  Who is the young man?)

From TripSavvy: On February 14, 1912, Taft signed the proclamation making Arizona the 48th state, and the last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the union. It was the last of the 48 contiguous states to be admitted to the union.

Arizona’s state flag waves in the blue – From TripSavvy: On February 14, 1912, Taft signed the proclamation making Arizona the 48th state, and the last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the union. It was the last of the 48 contiguous states to be admitted to the union.

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Some of this material was borrowed, with express permission, from last year’s post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.


Happy birthday, Abe and Charles!

February 12, 2018

From Smithsonian Magazine's 2009 article,

From Smithsonian Magazine’s 2009 article, “How Lincoln and Darwin Shaped the World.” Illustration by Joe Ciardiello.

On this day in 1809, just a few hours apart, Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born.

What are the odds of historic coincidences like that?

Lincoln’s birthday is still listed in law as a date to fly the U.S. flag, though we’ve changed the celebration to the following week and the generic President’s Day, closer to George Washington’s real birthday, February 22. President’s Day is celebrated on the third Monday in February.

So, you may certainly fly your flag today. (You may fly your flag any day, but you get the idea.)

News will feature more celebrations of Darwin than Lincoln, today, I predict — Darwin Day is a worldwide celebration by science nerds.

Both Lincoln and Darwin worked to end slavery. Darwin probably had more of an idea that racial discrimination had no science basis. Lincoln had more political sway. After Lincoln and Darwin, science and human rights advanced greatly, because of their work.

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