THROUGH thickest glooms look back, immortal
shade,
On that confusion which thy death has made:
Or from Olympus’ height look down, and see
A Town involv’d in grief bereft of thee.
Thy Lucy sees thee mingle with the dead,
And rends the graceful tresses from her head,
Wild in her woe, with grief unknown opprest
Sigh follows sigh deep heaving from her breast.
Too quickly fled, ah! whither art thou gone?
Ah! lost for ever to thy wife and son!
The hapless child, thine only hope and heir,
Clings round his mother’s neck, and weeps his sorrows
there.
The loss of thee on Tyler’s soul returns,
And Boston for her dear physician mourns.
When sickness call’d for Marshall’s healing hand,
With what compassion did his soul expand?
In him we found the father and the friend:
In life how lov’d! how honour’d in his end!
And must not then our AEsculapius stay
To bring his ling’ring infant into day?
The babe unborn in the dark womb is tost,
And seems in anguish for its father lost.
Gone is Apollo from his house of earth,
But leaves the sweet memorials of his worth:
The common parent, whom we all deplore,
From yonder world unseen must come no more,
Yet ‘midst our woes immortal hopes attend
The spouse, the sire, the universal friend.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Phillis Wheatley's poem On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall

1 Comment

  1. Boogieman says:

    On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall

    THROUGH thickest glooms look back, immortal
    shade,
    On that confusion which thy death has made:

    She is telling the dead person to look back on his own life and see what his death has done to others.

    Or from Olympus’ height look down, and see
    A Town involv’d in grief bereft of thee.

    Olympus is where the Greek gods live. It isn’t where the human dead go in Greek mythology but never mind that she is acting like that is what Olympus is so lets go with it. So she is saying look down from heaven to the town you are from and see the people there grieve for you.

    Thy Lucy sees thee mingle with the dead,
    And rends the graceful tresses from her head,

    His wife Lucy sees that he is dead and is tearing her hair out in grief.

    Wild in her woe, with grief unknown opprest
    Sigh follows sigh deep heaving from her breast.

    She is going nuts in her grief.

    Too quickly fled, ah! whither art thou gone?

    He died young and it wasn’t expected.

    Ah! lost for ever to thy wife and son!

    He left a wife and son behind.

    The hapless child, thine only hope and heir,
    Clings round his mother’s neck, and weeps his sorrows
    there.

    His son is young and crying while hanging on to his mother.

    The loss of thee on Tyler’s soul returns,

    I assume that his son’s name is Tyler.

    And Boston for her dear physician mourns.

    He was a doctor in Boston and the town all misses him.

    When sickness call’d for Marshall’s healing hand,
    With what compassion did his soul expand?

    It seems he died because he was caring for the sick and caught what they had and died from it. So he died because in an outbreak of disease he kept treating the sick rather than running away from. When there were outbrakes of plague, typhus, smallpox etc in the past before doctors knew what they were doing and before vaccinations many would run rather than try to treat the sick. Since trying to treat them would most likely mean their own death.

    In him we found the father and the friend:

    To his son he was a father to everyone else a good friend.

    In life how lov’d! how honour’d in his end!

    Everyone loved him and everyone now misses him.

    And must not then our AEsculapius stay
    To bring his ling’ring infant into day?

    She is saying that he should have been allowed to live to raise his son as he has earned that right as the towns healer. AEsculapius is the Greek demi god of healing. AEsculapius was worshiped by the Greek and Roman doctors. When AEsculapius died he was no longer a mortal and was elevated to being one of the gods she is saying that this man as a doctor has earned that right just as AEsculapius did because of his healing.

    Hippocrates the Greek doctor was a follower of AEsculapius. You have heard of the Hippocratic oath? All doctors take it even today. It says “first do no harm”. All the early Greek and Roman Doctors were followers of AEsculapius. You learned to be a doctor at a Temple of AEsculapius and such temples were hospitals as well. When the Roman empire became Christian those temples were converted to being churches for various healing saints. Most still stayed as functioning hospitals for a time as well.

    Hippocrates wrote extensively on his methods as did the Roman Doctor Galen. Galen could perform Brain surgery and remove cataracts and wrote about his methods in detail. If you had a choice between being treated by Galen and being treated by any doctor between the time of the fall of Rome until before the American Civil war you would do well to choose Galen. Galen had a clue doctors from the time of the fall of Rome until the American Civil war were just guessing. Some still are just guessing if you ask me. For centuries they followed what Galen did but only from bad fragmented translations of his works. They didn’t fully understand Galen because none of them had a full translation of all his works and wrote hundreds of books. He wrote more than many doctors do today. Those few doctors who bother to read all his works realize immediately that Galen knew a hell of a lot more than they all though he did. So that means that all the other Greek and Roman doctors all followers of AEsculapius also knew a lot more than people gave them credit for.

    The symbol of medicine today is one or two winged snake(s) wound around on a pole. That is called the Caduceus. The story is that Apollo a full Greek god of healing, the sun, music and archery mated with a moral. The child produced was Aesculapius (he lived as a mortal) who learned so much about healing he could raise the dead. The gods struck him dead for it because that went against nature and indeed against their edict to not do that.

    But they then raised him up again to be one of them (on the condition that he no longer raise the dead) and Apollo gave him the Caduceus the symbol of healing. In the same way that Catholics today will pray to a patron saint of this or that rather than to god the ancient Greeks and Romans would pray to AEsculapius rather than Apollo for healing.

    Many half god/half mortals were important heroes in ancient Greece and some like AEsculapius and Hercules became full gods when they died. This is why the Greeks and the Romans were so accepting of Jesus being the son of God to them it was normal and they had many such people. And many of them did things we would not call so heroic but ended up as gods when they died anyway. Hercules once killed his wife and kids in a fit of rage brought on by his step mother Hera (a goddess and wife of his father, king of the gods Zeus she was pissed at Hercules for even existing because his existence proved her husbands infidelity). To atone for it he had to do his 12 labors. When he finished them he earned the rite to become a god. So Jesus’s failings and shortcomings while they would offend a Jew who knew about him they would not offend the Greeks and Romans who believed you could atone for them and in the process become a god. Early Greek and Roman burials for early Christians would have depictions of both that fish symbol for Christianity and depictions of Hercules or AEsculapius as well. They didn’t make a bright line between the Greek and Roman gods and Jesus like we do today. Not until centuries later. Trust me early Christians were nothing like people think they were.

    Many Roman Emperors claimed divine decent. Julius Cesar claimed to be descendent of Venus. Cleopatra VII his lover claimed to be descended from the Egyptian goddess Isis. Isis was a goddess of magic and healing since she did raise her husband Osiris from the dead even putting his body back together after crocodiles at him. This why the Egyptians accepted Jesus so much coming back from the dead and the promise of an afterlife was already important to their religion. This was exported all across the Roman empire after Cleopatra VII died and Egypt became part of the Roman empire. Temples to Isis were all over the empire including even England. The incense churches use today is the same pine tree incense that the temples of Isis used and planted all across the Roman empire.

    She is calling this dead doctor the towns AEsculapius in other words the towns healer. By the way old hospitals in Greek and Roman times were temples to AEsculapius. Even the place called Bethesda in Jerusalem where Jesus healed the sick was a temple to AEsculapius that the Romans built there. It was a pool of water that supposedly had healing powers. Many such temples were built near such waters. Today when we analyze such waters many of them have high mineral contents. Some even have high levels of Lithium. Lithium is used to treat bi polar disorder and it might have actually helped people with that disorder in ancient times. Building a temple to AEscuapius in Jerusalem on a spot that the Jews had been going to and praying to god for healing for years of course really pissed off the Jews since it was a pagan temple. Jesus going there to heal the sick who were asking a pagan god for healing would also piss off the Jews. You won’t learn that from a Theology major only from a history major like me. Even today’s Jews have forgotten about the temple to AEscuapius at Bethesda and act like the caduceus was their symbol first. It actually originated with the Persians and their astrology and made its way to the Greeks. The Jewish adoption of the zodiac signs is a pagan import that they forgot is a pagan import. I even see it today on a Jewish synagogue in Squirrel Hill. I asked Aunt Mary about it and she thinks it is an old Jewish symbol I know it is not. Today the best military hospital in the USA in Washington D.C. is called Bethesda. It is going to be closed soon because Bush is an asshole.

    The babe unborn in the dark womb is tost,
    And seems in anguish for its father lost.

    Even worse than leaving his wife and son behind he has left a pregnant wife and a already born son behind. She is saying that the unborn child is also morning. That may be his mothers hormones could affect the unborn child.

    Gone is Apollo from his house of earth,
    But leaves the sweet memorials of his worth:

    As I said Apollo is a full god and the main god of healing. So she is saying that the doctor is dead and comparing him to Apollo saying Apollo is gone. But that people remember this dead doctor because he was a good man and a good doctor.

    The common parent, whom we all deplore,
    From yonder world unseen must come no more,

    We are all subject to death and must answer to it even though we don’t like it.

    Yet ‘midst our woes immortal hopes attend
    The spouse, the sire, the universal friend.

    Your hopes for immortality rest only on your children passing on your line to the next generation. Pathetic to me but very real to most people. Personally I think many people are such assholes that the best thing they can do for humanity is not have children. Bush’s father is one such person to me since the entire world would be better off if he didn’t have children but it is too late for that.

    Phillis Wheatley

    Oh, one more thing. St. Luke an apostle of Jesus was a physician. That means he spoke and could read and write Greek (Greek was the language of the eastern half of the Roman Empire Latin the western half) possibly Latin as well and had attended and learned at a temple of AEsculapius. Why does that matter? Well, it makes St. Luke a bad Jew. In the same way St Thomas who was a tax collector for the Romans was a bad Jew.

    Today all Christian sects and even the Jews recognize that Jesus hung out with bad Jews like St. Thomas, the sick, blind, deaf, lamb and prostitutes that could not worship fully at the Jewish temple because illness was seen as being punishment from God and thus not disease but a sin you committed and collecting Taxes for the Romans made you a collaborator and of course being a prostitute made you sinful. Jesus was saying that your sins no matter what they were are forgiven. Every time he healed someone he was slapping the High Priest and the Sanhedren in the face because he would say “Your sins are forgiven” This was against the teachings of the established High Priest and Rabbis of the time only they could forgive your sins at the temple and since these sinners were not allowed to enter the temple they could not gain forgiveness. So Jesus would walk among them and heal and thus forgive them wherever they were. His going berserk in the temple and turning over the money changers tables was very much a political act going against the power of the temple in accepting money for who is forgiven and who is not based on the arbitrary rules of what is or is not a sin. So when I say that I disagree with what the Pope says I have standing based on what Jesus did. In fact I find it hard to believe that you can be a good Christian at all and follow the Pope the way people do like sheep and the very corrupt way that Jews followed the High Priest (appointed by Rome not by the Jews themselves) that Jesus was protesting against. Anyone with half a brain will realize we are following our religious leaders in ways that Jesus was against. It is the heart of his message to not do that.

    In any event it is lost on non historians today that St. Luke was also considered a bad Jew by the Jews of the time because to learn to be a doctor he had to learn at a pagan temple. The Jews didn’t like that but many of them did that or went to temples of AEsculapius for healing since the Roman doctors or Jews trained by the Romans actually knew what the hell they were doing. If you went to a Rabbi he might pray for you but didn’t know what to do and if you stayed sick he could bar you from full participation in Jewish religion because he would say you are a sinner and being punished for your sins. Just as having St. Thomas as an apostle was a slap in the face for the Jewish establishment having St. Luke as one was a slap in the face as well. Today most common IDIOTs don’t know that. And the Christian Churches aren’t going to tell you it nor are Jews since a lot of them are doctors today. Most of them are of course also idiots and don’t even know this. But the fact is just to be a doctor and a Jew in the first century meant you weren’t a good Jew. The Jews today forget that and act like that didn’t happen but it did.

    Think of it like if today and you are a biology teacher wanting to teach evolution and some right wing Christian nut job wants you to teach creationism or intelligent design. The Greek and Roman doctors were in the same position starting to understand medicine and science but yet sounded by idiots wanting to only pray to God for healing and not even do the most basic medical care or learn about it.

    Of course many temples of AEsculapius were converted to churches for St. Luke when the Roman Empire became Christian. What Historians find so funny about that is St. Luke had to learn at a temple of AEsculapius to begin with. We think Jews always were the best doctors but in the ancient world it was the Greco Roman doctors. Good Jews may have went to St. Luke for healing but they wouldn’t have advertised it and though they would have paid him well they would not be having him over for seder supper or sitting next to him in the synagogue. It’s hard to believe today but St. Luke would have been as disliked by pious Jews as a prostitute or a tax collector. But they couldn’t live without him and would go to him before going to a fully pagan doctor. It shouldn’t be lost on you by now that many historians wonder if Jesus was actually an AEsculapius temple trained doctor himself since so much of what he did was healing the sick. Something he wasn’t going to learn at rabbinical school not by a long shot. Today Jews think a good Jew can be a doctor 2,000 years ago that wasn’t the case at all.

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