What natural phenomena occurs in the poem "To His Excellency General Washington" by Phyllis Wheatley?

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cneukam1379 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the third stanza of the poem, Wheatley begins to relate natural phenomena to the army's movement under the leadership of General George Washington. She writes,

Muse! Bow propitious while my pen relates

How pour her armies through a thousand gates,

As when Eolus heaven’s fair face deforms,

Enwrapp’d in tempest and a night of storms;

Astonish’d ocean feels the wild uproar,

The refluent surges beat the sounding shore;

Or think as leaves in Autumn’s golden reign,

Such, and so many, moves the warrior’s train (lines 13-20).

First, Wheatley invokes the Muse to aid her in recounting the tales of the armies. She compares the army to the god of the wind, Eolus, who creates tempests and storms and churns up the ocean with his might. She then compares the army to autumn leaves by saying the number of leaves that fall from the trees is the same number of warriors marching to victory.

Wheatley uses these natural phenomena to create a concrete image for her readers of the victories of the American army under General Washington. She sings his praises throughout, comparing Washington to the gods that she references.