Sunday, May 20, 2012

Long Island Poem for Memorial Day Sunday, May 20th 2012

Fervent religious poetry may not be your cup of tea, but Lloyd Neck-born Jupiter Hammon (October 17, 1711 – before 1806), one of the earliest black poets published in America, devoted all his surviving poems to glory of God and moral instructions.

Jupiter, though a slave throughout his entire life, was politically active and spoke for the gradual emancipation to end slavery.

For more information on Jupiter Hammon visit the Lloyd Harbor Historical Society, Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities which owns and oversees the Joseph Lloyd Manor, now a museum, where Jupiter Hammon lived, Center for Public Archaeology at Hofstra University, or read "The African-American Poet, Jupiter Hammon: A Home-Born Slave and His Classical Name" by Margaret A. Brucia, from International Journal of the Classical Tradition, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Spring, 2001), pp. 515-522

On this Memorial Day weekend "A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death" would be more appropriate, but we will instead quote a stanza from "An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley". You may choose to interpret the "heaven's joys" in a sense broader than strictly religious, shall we say "communion of spirit"? Phillis Wheatley was a celebrated black poet of the time.

An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley
Jupiter Hammon


While thousands muse with earthly toys;
    And range about the street,
Dear Phillis, seek for heaven’s joys,
    Where we do hope to meet.
                Matth. vi. 33.


From "An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley" by Jupiter Hammon
Reprinted after The Poetry Foundation. In public domain.

Joseph Lloyd Manor in Lloyd Neck
Photo by James Shih
Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday -  Long Island Poem for Mother's Day Sunday, May 13th, 2012

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