APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!
The first Southern African American to publish poetry.
Born into Slavery in 1798 on the William Horton plantation. George Moses Horton taught himself how to read. Unable to write, George would compose poetry inside his head at an early age. In 1829, his poems were published in a collection entitled “The Hope of Liberty.” In which he hoped to raise enough funds to buy his freedom, however, was unsuccessful.
George Moses Horton would learn how to write years later, in 1832. His poems appeared in newspapers, and he would publish more books of poetry during his enslavement. Freedom came in 1865 when Union troops and the Emancipation proclamation reached North Carolina.
Today, I feature a poem from 1828 composed by George Moses Horton.
When first my bosom glowed with hope,
I gaz’d as from a mountain top
On some delightful plain;
But oh! how transient was the scene —
It fled as though it had not been,
And all my hopes were vain.
How oft this tantalizing blaze
Has led me through deception’s maze;
My friend became my foe —
Then like a plaintive dove I mourn’d,
To bitter all my sweets were turn’d,
And tears began to flow.
Why was the dawning of my birth
Upon this vile accursed earth,
Which is but pain to me?
Oh! that my soul had winged its flight,
When first I saw the morning light,
To worlds of liberty!
Come melting Pity from afar
And break this vast, enormous bar
Between a wretch and thee;
Purchase a few shorts days of time,
And bid a vassal rise sublime
On wings of liberty.
Is it because my skin is black,
That thou should’st be so dull and slack,
And scorn to set me free?
Then let me hasten to the grave,
The only refuge for the slave,
Who mourns for liberty.
The wicked cease from trouble there;
No more I’d languish or despair —
The weary there can rest.
Oppression’s voice is heard no more,
Drudg’ry and pain, and toil are o’er.
Yes! there I shall be blest.