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"Thoughts on the Works of Providence" (Wheatley)

This study will discuss and analyze Phillis Wheatley's poem "Thoughts on the Works of Providence." The poem is a religious work, intended to express the poet's devout views on God and the relationship of the human to the divine. The poet praises God, or Providence, and the spiritual guidance God gives to humanity in its struggles on earth and in the mortal realm. As an example of poetry which anticipates the coming Romantic movement, the work focuses on the passion of the poet and role of nature in the relationship between humanity and God. At the same time, the poem differs from Romantic writing in its emphasis on the religious as the essence of human reality.

The poem is divided into sections, although those sections generally deal with the same basic theme--the majesty and mercy of God in nature and in human life. The first section of the poem, through line 28, focuses on the Almighty's power, wisdom and goodness, especially as those qualities are manifested in the Creation, in nature and humanity. The second section, through line 62, focuses on the dire straits humanity would be in were it not for God's mercy. The third section, through line 82, advances the same theme, pleading to humanity to remember not to mourn for lost time, but to find God in all life. The final section focuses on the dialogue between two parts of humanity, Love and Reason, and their discussion about human "strife" and God's role in easing that strife. The dialogue is introduced by one of the "mental pow'rs" which asks "What most the image of th'Eternal shows?" (104). Love asks "How long strife shall prevail" and declares that "Recollection" can help, as it "proclaims [Love's] origin divine" (lines 110-111). Love asks Reason for help in letting "this most causeless strife subside" (113). Reason responds, reassuring Love and restoring the relationship between Love and its cause and origin, God.

The style of the poem is grand and emotive. This style mi...

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"Thoughts on the Works of Providence" (Wheatley). (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 06:54, February 23, 2017, from