poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Jupiter Hammon was the first African American poet to be published in the United States. He was born into slavery to Henry Lloyd in Lloyd Harbor, New York, on October 17, 1711. The Lloyd family encouraged Hammon to attend school, where he learned to read and write, and he went on to work alongside Henry Lloyd as a bookkeeper and negotiator for the family’s business. In his early years, Hammon was heavily influenced by the Great Awakening, a major religious revival of the time, and became a devout Christian.

Hammon published his first poem, “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries: Composed by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro belonging to Mr. Lloyd of Queen’s Village, on Long Island, the 25th of December, 1760,” as a broadside in 1761. Eighteen years passed before the publication of his second work, “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley.” In this poem, Hammon addresses a series of quatrains with accompanying Bible verses to Wheatley, the most prominent African American poet of the time. In 1782 Hammon published “A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death.”

After Henry Lloyd died in 1763, Hammon moved to Connecticut with Lloyd’s son, Joseph. There, he became a leader in the African American community and attended abolitionist and Revolutionary War societies. At the inaugural meeting of the Spartan Project of the African Society of New York City in September of 1786, Hammon delivered his most famous sermon, “Address to the Negroes of the State of New York.” His writing was reprinted by several abolitionist societies, including the New York Quakers and the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.

Hammon is widely considered one of the founders of the early American and African American writing traditions. His date of death is unknown, although he is believed to have died sometime around 1806, having been enslaved his entire life. He is likely buried in an unmarked grave on what was once the Lloyd property and is now Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve in Long Island, New York.

An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penitential Cries

Salvation comes by Christ alone,
   The only Son of God;
Redemption now to every one,
   That love his holy Word.

Dear Jesus, we would fly to Thee,
   And leave off every Sin,
Thy tender Mercy well agree;
   Salvation from our King. 

Salvation comes now from the Lord,
   Our victorious King.
His holy Name be well ador'd,
   Salvation surely bring.

Dear Jesus, give thy Spirit now, 
   Thy Grace to every Nation,
That han't the Lord to whom we bow,
   The Author of Salvation.

Dear Jesus, unto Thee we cry,
   Give us the Preparation;
Turn not away thy tender Eye;
   We seek thy true Salvation.

Salvation comes from God we know,
   The true and only One;
It's well agreed and certain true,
   He gave his only Son.

Lord, hear our penetential Cry:
   Salvation from above;
It is the Lord that doth supply,
   With his Redeeming Love.

Dear Jesus, by thy precious Blood,
   The World Redemption have:
Salvation now comes from the Lord,
   He being thy captive slave.

Dear Jesus, let the Nations cry,
   And all the People say,
Salvation comes from Christ on high,
   Haste on Tribunal Day.

We cry as Sinners to the Lord,
   Salvation to obtain; 
It is firmly fixed, his holy Word,
   Ye shall not cry in vain.

Dear Jesus, unto Thee we cry,
   And make our Lamentation:
O let our Prayers ascend on high;
   We felt thy Salvation.

Lord, turn our dark benighted Souls;
   Give us a true Motion,
And let the Hearts of all the World,
   Make Christ their Salvation.

Ten Thousand Angels cry to Thee,
   Yea, louder than the Ocean.
Thou art the Lord, we plainly see;
   Thou art the true Salvation.

Now is the Day, excepted Time;
   The Day of the Salvation;
Increase your Faith, do not repine:
   Awake ye, every Nation.

Lord, unto whom now shall we go,
   Or seek a safe abode?
Thou has the Word Salvation Too,
   The only Son of God.

Ho! every one that hunger hath,
   Or pineth after me,
Salvation be thy leading Staff,
   To set the Sinner free.

Dear Jesus, unto Thee we fly;
   Depart, depart from Sin,
Salvation doth at length supply,
   The Glory of our King.

Come, ye Blessed of the Lord,
   Salvation greatly given;
O turn your Hearts, accept the Word,
   Your Souls are fit for Heaven. 

Dear Jesus, we now turn to Thee,
   Salvation to obtain;
Our Hearts and Souls do meet again,
   To magnify thy Name.

Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove,
   The Object of our Care;
Salvation doth increase our Love;
   Our Hearts hath felt they fear. 

Now Glory be to God on High, 
   Salvation high and low;
And thus the Soul on Christ rely,
   To Heaven surely go.

Come, Blessed Jesus, Heavenly Dove,
   Accept Repentance here;
Salvation give, with tender Love;
   Let us with Angels share.  Finis.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Jupiter Hammon

Born into slavery in Lloyd Harbor, New York, on October 17, 1711, Jupiter Hammon was the first African American poet to be published in the United States. His poems include “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley” and “A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death.”

by this poet

poem
I
O come you pious youth! adore
   The wisdom of thy God,
In bringing thee from distant shore,
   To learn His holy word.

II
Thou mightst been left behind
   Amidst a dark abode;
God's tender mercy still combin'd
   Thou hast the holy word.

III
Fair wisdom's ways are paths of peace,
   And they that walk