Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 30: Ode: Ode to Neptune

by Phillis Wheatley

lesson image


While raging tempests shake the shore,

While AElus' thunders round us roar,

And sweep impetuous o'er the plain

Be still, O tyrant of the main;

Nor let thy brow contracted frowns betray,

While my Susanna skims the wat'ry way.


The Pow'r propitious hears the lay,

The blue-ey'd daughters of the sea

With sweeter cadence glide along,

And Thames responsive joins the song.

Pleas'd with their notes Sol sheds benign his ray,

And double radiance decks the face of day.


To court thee to Britannia's arms

Serene the climes and mild the sky,

Her region boasts unnumber'd charms,

Thy welcome smiles in ev'ry eye.

Thy promise, Neptune keep, record my pray'r,

Not give my wishes to the empty air.


AElus (Aeolus or Aiolos): Greek god of the winds.

Thames: River that passes through London, England.

Sol: The sun.

Britannia: Another name for England (United Kingdom).

Neptune: Roman god of the sea.

    Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 30: Ode: Ode to Neptune

by Phillis Wheatley


Study the poem for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the poem each day.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read about the poetic form.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


Phillis Wheatley was born in West Africa (likely Gambia or Senegal today) in 1753. At the age of seven, a local chief sold her to a slave trader, who brought her to America to be re-sold. Despite her severe hardships, she grew up to become an internationally known poet in her lifetime. Even George Washington was an admirer. She was eventually freed and married and had children. But there was no happy ending for Phillis. Three of her children died in their infancy, her husband was jailed for debt, and she died in poverty. Her "Ode to Neptune," mirrors the stormy seas of life, but ends with the hope of a safe harbor.


Poems often adhere to specific poetic forms, defined as 'poems following distinct sets of rules.'

The nine poetic forms we'll study include the:

  1. Sijo: A lyrical Korean poetic form of three long lines.
  2. Haiku: A Japanese poem of three lines and a total of seventeen syllables.
  3. Limerick: A humorous poem of five lines and the rhyming scheme AABBA, typically having syllables of 9–9–6–6–9.
  4. Sonnet: A poetic form of fourteen lines that follow one of a few common rhyming schemes.
  5. Epitaph: A poem honoring the deceased, engraved on a burial marker or tomb.
  6. Acrostic: A poem where particular letter spell out a secret message, often the first letter of each line.
  7. Visual: A poem written in such a way that the lines form a pattern, usually related to the subject-matter of the poem.
  8. Ode: A poem honoring and/or celebrating something or someone.
  9. Blank Verse

Odes generally follow these rules:

  1. Written to praise someone or something
  2. Follow a rhyming scheme (e.g. AABBCC)


Activity 1: Recite the Poem Title, Poet Name, and Poem

  • Each day this week, recite aloud the title of the poem, the name of the poet, and the poem.

Activity 2: Study the Poem Picture

Study the poem picture and describe how it relates to the poem.

Activity 3: Narrate the Poem

  • After reading the poem, narrate the poem concepts aloud using your own words.

Activity 4: Map the Poem

  • Phillis Wheatley was born in present-day Gambia or Senegal.
  • Find Gambia and Senegal on the map of Africa.

Activity 5: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete page 33 of 'Elementary Poetry 6: Poetic Forms.'


  1. 'Phillis Wheatley.' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.