“Letter to Reverend Samson Occum” – Perspective

Theodore Roethke states, “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.” Does suffering disillusion, or does it reveal? Is there a choice? When still young, Phillis Wheatley was kidnapped and enslaved, educated and published as a poet (after 17 Boston men attested to her authorship), and freed. She later experienced poverty. In her “Letter to Reverend Samson Occum,” a Mohegan Indian Presbyterian minister, she commends him for indicting slave-holding ministers and points out the “Absurdity of their Conduct whose Words and Actions are so diametrically opposite.” Students will consider whether the darkness of Wheatley’s circumstances brought vision.

Level: Secondary English/Language Arts

Subject Area: American Literature/Multi-Cultural Literature

Author: Karina Isley



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