"On IMAGINATION"
By Phillis Wheatley

Transcription, correction, editorial commentary, and markup by Students of Marymount University, James West, Amy Ridderhof
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Sources

London : Printed for A. Bell, 1773Page images are sourced from two copies of the first edition housed in the Library of Congress.Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative, 1999Online SGML text from the University of Michigan HTI. SGML markup edited to conform to LiC parameters, including changes to element and attribute case, ligatures, and other special html characters.

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Citation

Wheatley, Phillis. "On IMAGINATION". Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, Printed for A. Bell, 1773 , pp 65-68 . Literature in Context: An Open Anthology. http://anthology.lib.virginia.edu/work/Wheatley/wheatley-imagination. Accessed: 2024-04-18T01:50:56.008Z

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65 On IMAGINATION. 1THY various works, imperial queen, we see, 2How bright their forms! how deck'd with pomp by thee! 3Thy wond'rous acts in beauteous order stand, 4And all attest how potent is thine hand. 5From Helicon's refulgent heights attend, 6Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend: 7To tell her glories with a faithful tongue, 8Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song. 9Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies, 10Till some lov'd object strikes her wand'ring eyes, 11Whose silken fetters all the senses bind, 12And soft captivity involves the mind. 66 13Imagination! who can sing thy force? 14Or who describe the swiftness of thy course? 15Soaring through air to find the bright abode, 16Th' empyreal palace of the thund'ring God, 17We on thy pinions can surpass the wind, 18And leave the rolling universe behind: 19From star to star the mental optics rove, 20Measure the skies, and range the realms above. 21There in one view we grasp the mighty whole, 22Or with new worlds amaze th' unbounded soul. 23Though Winter frowns to Fancy's raptur'd eyes 24The fields may flourish, and gay scenes arise; 25The frozen deeps may break their iron bands, 26And bid their waters murmur o'er the sands. 27Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign, 28And with her flow'ry riches deck the plain; 29Sylvanus may diffuse his honours round, 30And all the forest may with leaves be crown'd: 67 31Show'rs may descend, and dews their gems disclose, 32And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose. 33Such is thy pow'r, nor are thine orders vain, 34O thou the leader of the mental train: 35In full perfection all thy works are wrought, 36And thine the sceptre o'er the realms of thought. 37Before thy throne the subject-passions bow, 38Of subject-passions sov'reign ruler Thou; 39At thy command joy rushes on the heart, 40And through the glowing veins the spirits dart. 41Fancy might now her silken pinions try 42To rise from earth, and sweep th' expanse on high; 43From Tithon's bed now might Aurora rise, 44Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies, 45While a pure stream of light o'erflows the skies. 46The monarch of the day I might behold, 47And all the mountains tipt with radiant gold, 68 48But I reluctant leave the pleasing views, 49Which Fancy dresses to delight the Muse; 50Winter austere forbids me to aspire, 51And northern tempests damp the rising fire; 52They chill the tides of Fancy's flowing sea, 53Cease then, my song, cease the unequal lay.

Footnotes