On Being Brought from Africa to America

by Phillis Wheatley

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What is an example of alliteration in "On Being Brought from Africa to America" by Wheatley?

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On Being Brought from Africa to America

BY Phyllis Wheatley

'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,

Taught my benighted soul to understand

That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:

Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.

Some view our sable race with scornful eye,

"Their colour is a diabolic die."

Remember, ChristiansNegros, black as Cain,

May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.

I copied the poem for you to visit as I explain the examples of alliteration in Wheatley’s writing.  First of all, alliteration is the repetition of like consonant sounds usually found at the beginning of words.  Writers use alliteration to give meaning or rhythm to their words. The repetition of sound will emphasize words for the reader. 

In this poem, there are several examples. 

In the first three lines, we have the repetition of the “T” sound in the words, “Twas”, “Taught”, “That”, “There’s”.

In Line 5, we see the repetition of the “S” sound in the words, “Some”, “sable”, and “scornful”.

And, line 6 uses the words, “diabolical”, and “die” to repeat the “D” sound.

The use of repeating sounds not only causes the words to stand out, but it also creates a rhythmic quality to the poem.  Wheatley's uses of the figure of speech, alliteration, shows her desire to write formally and use the classic conventions of poetry in her writing.  



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