MANA's BLACK LIT ALIVE! Continues With Lucy Terry Prince and Phillis Wheatley

Welcome to MANA's BLACK LIT ALIVE! is a special podcast on literature produced by African American writers in the 18th century and beyond.

Through literature, the writers, whether free or slaves, realized their identity and expressed their individuality at a time when African Americans were only viewed as mere property. 

In this podcast,'s Dr. Fairy C. Hayes-Scott, also known as DR C, continues the discussion of Lucy Terry Prince (c.1730-1821)believed to be the author of the first poem composed by an African American woman, and Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784), the first African American author of a book of poetry. 

When did slaves actually reach the American shores? Did Lucy Terry Prince, a slave, actually write her ballad, "Bars Fights" at a time when slaves were not allowed to learn how to read or write? What was Phillis Wheatley trying to get across in her poem, "Imagination?" DR C discusses this and more in the podcast below: 

Listen to DR C’s podcast where she reads the works of Lucy Terry Prince and Phillis Wheatley. 

Follow along with DR C as she recites the poems below:

Bars Fight

By Lucy Terry Prince

August, twas the twenty-fifth,

An oil painting of Lucy Terry Prince
by Louise Minks. Courtesy of Louise Minks

Seventeen houndred forty-six,

The Indians did in ambush lay, 

Some very valiant men to slay

Twas nigh unto Sam Dickinson's mill,

The Indians there five men did kill.

The names of whom I'll not leave out,

Samuel Allen like a hero foute,

And though he was so brave and bold,

His face no more shall we behold.

Eleazer Hawks was killed outright,

Before he had time to fight,

Before he did the Indians see,

Was shot and killed immediately.

Oliver Amsden he was slain, 

Which caused his friends much grief pain.

Simeon Amsden they found dead

Not many rods from Oliver's head.

Adonijah Gillett, we do hear,

Did lose his life which was so dear.

John Sadler fled across the water,

And thus escaped the dreadful slaughter.

Eunice Allen see the Indians comeing

And hoped to save herself by running:

And had not her petticoats stopt her,

The awful creatures had not cotched her,

Not tommyhawked her on the head,

And left her on the ground for dead.

Young Samuel Allen, Oh! lack-a-day!

Was taken and carried to Canada.


On Imagination 

By Phillis Wheatley

Photo by Bob Linsdell / CC BY
How bright their forms! how deck'd with pomp by thee!

Thy wond'rous acts in beauteous order stand, 

And all attest how potent is thine hand.

From Helicon's refulgent heights attend,

Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend:

To tell her glories with a faithful tongue,

Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.

Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies,

Till some lov'd object strikes her wand'ring eyes,

Whose silken fetters all the sense bind,

And soft captivity involves the mind. 

Imagination! who can sing thy force?

Or who describes the swiftness of thy course?

Soaring through air to find the bright abode,

Th' empyreal palace of the thund'ring God,

We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,

And leave the rolling universe behind:

From star to star the mental optics rove,

Measure the skies, and range the realms above.

There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,

Or with new worlds amaze th' unbounded soul. 

Though Winter frowns to Fancy's raptur'd eyes

The fields may flourish, and gay scenes arise;

The frozen deeps may break their iron bands,

And bid their waters murmur o'er the sands.

Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign,

And with her flow'ry riches deck the plain;

Sylvanus may diffuse his honours round,

And all the forest may with leaves be crown'd:

Show'rs may descend, and dews their gems disclose,

And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose. 

Such is thy pow'r, nor are thine orders vain,

O thou the leader of the mental train:

In full perfection all thy works are wrought,

And thin the sceptre o'er the realms of thought.

Before thy throne the subject-passions bow,

Of subject-passions sov'reign rule thou;

At thy command joy rushes on the heart,

And through the glowing veins the spirits dart.

Fancy might now her silken pinions try

To rise from earth, and sweep th' expanse on high:

From Tithon's bed now might Aurora rise,

Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies,

While a pure stream of light o'erflows the skies.

The monarch of the day I might behold,

And all the mountains tipt with radiant gold,

But I reluctant leave the pleasing views,

Which Fancy dresses to delight the Muse;

Winter austere forbids me to aspire,

And northern tempests damp the rising fire;

They chill the tides of Fancy's flowing sea,

Cease then, my song, cease the unequal lay.

Go here to listen to the first MANA's BLACK LIT ALIVE podcast on Lucy Terry Prince and Phillis Wheatley.

Have you written poems that you would like to self-publish? MANA can help. Contact MANA today at

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