Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral

Welcome to the Ohio State University Libraries guide to "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral."

Related Resources

Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral  Book Frontpiece

Explore The Ohio State University Libraries Resources

The Ohio State University Libraries provides access to a wide variety of resources. This page features resources that can help you explore themes in Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

Author's Books

Wheatley, Phillis. The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley. New York: Oxford University Press 1988.

Wheatley, Phillis and Vincent Carretta. Complete Writings: Phillis Wheatley. New York:Penguin Books 2001. 

Wheatley Phillis and Vincent Carretta. The Writings of Phillis Wheatley. First edition First ed. Oxford University Press 2020. 


About the Book

Welcome to The Ohio State University Libraries Guide to Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley, This guide offers resources for those who want to explore issues central to the book.

About the book

Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral 

"The extraordinary writings of Phillis Wheatley, a slave girl turned published poet

In 1761, a young girl arrived in Boston on a slave ship, sold to the Wheatley family, and given the name Phillis Wheatley. Struck by Phillis’ extraordinary precociousness, the Wheatleys provided her with an education that was unusual for a woman of the time and astonishing for a slave. After studying English and classical literature, geography, the Bible, and Latin, Phillis published her first poem in 1767 at the age of 14, winning much public attention and considerable fame. When Boston publishers who doubted its authenticity rejected an initial collection of her poetry, Wheatley sailed to London in 1773 and found a publisher there for Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral."

From: "Complete Writings By Phillis Wheatley publication page"

How does Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral relate to my life experience?
You will find many themes and events in the book that relate to your life. During your lifetime, you will encounter new  communities, cultures, ideas, and relationships. 

  • slavery
  • Christianity 
  • Africa
  • American Colonies
  • kidnapping
  • racism
  • perseverance
  • neoclassicism 
  • integrity  
  • social justice

Discussion Questions

Questions for readers
We hope you enjoy reading "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral."

  1. How are slaves' experiences described in "On Being Brought from Africa to America".

  2. What is the meaning of 

    When first thy pencil did those beauties give,

    And breathing figures learnt from thee to live,

    How did those prospects give my soul delight,

    A new creation rushing on my sight?

    "To S. M. A Young African Painter, On Seeing His Works"

  3. Who is John Wheatley? Did Phillis Wheatley receive any proceeds from the publication of "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral?"

  4. What is the meaning of the wording around Phillis Wheatley's frontispiece portrait?

  5. Who is William, Earl of DARTMOUTH? “To the Right Honourable WILLIAM, Earl of DARTMOUTH, his Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State of North-America."

  6.  Phillis Wheatley writes 

    But how presumptuous shall we hope to find

    Divine acceptance with th’ Almighty mind–

    While yet (O deed ungenerous!) they disgrace

    And hold in bondage Afric’s blameless race?

    "On the Death of General Wooster" 

     How can Christians reconcile their religious beliefs with African slavery?

  7. Why is "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral" relevant to Columbus' current social activism? 


African American and African Studies Librarian and Comparative Studies Librarian

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Leta Hendricks
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222B Thompson Library 1858 Neil Avenue Columbus, OH 43210