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Imagery in To His Excellency General Washington

Imagery Examples in To His Excellency General Washington:

Text of the Poem

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"A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine, With gold unfading, WASHINGTON! be thine...."   (Text of the Poem)

The poem’s final image is unexpected. Despite the reverence the speaker holds for Washington, the image of the general bedecked with golden crown, mansion, and throne brings to mind the British monarchy. However, there is a sense that these items are no more than trophies. According to Wheatley’s account, Washington is motivated by virtue and the goddess Columbia rather than personal gain.

"Fix’d are the eyes of the nations on the scales,..."   (Text of the Poem)

Wheatley’s speaker imagines the Revolutionary War as a spectacle put on for the world. The spectacle is conceptualized as the act of weighing the two warring sides on a set of scales. Literally speaking, while scales are a tool in economic dealings, they are also an ancient metaphor for justice. In classical mythology, the goddesses Justicia and Themis represented justice and were depicted holding a set of scales. The figure two lines later of Britannia “droop[ing] the pensive head” subtly conveys the weighty descent of one side of the scales.

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