George Moses Horton
Biography of George Moses Horton
George Moses Horton was an African-American poet.
He was born into slavery on William Horton's plantation in Northampton County, North Carolina. As a very young child, he and several family members were moved to a tobacco farm in rural Chatham County, when his owner relocated. Horton composed poems in his mind through his teen years. He was allowed by his master to visit the nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he recited poems to students who eagerly wrote them down and paid him for his compositions. His fame spread, and a collection of poems was published under the title The Hope of Liberty (1829). Horton was the first black southern author and the first African American poet to produce a volume in more than half a century.
Two more collections of Horton's poetry include Poetical Works (1845) and Naked Genius (1865). Horton began calling himself "the Colored Bard of North Carolina." Many of his works were vivid and powerful attacks on slavery.
After the American Civil War, Horton moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lived until his death. Once in the north, he never published another verse.
During the summer of 2006, UNC Chapel Hill renamed a newly built dorm, previously known as Hinton James North, to George Moses Horton dormitory.
George Moses Horton's Works:
The Hope of Liberty (1829)
Poetical Works (1845)
Naked Genius (1865)
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George Moses Horton Poems
On Liberty And Slavery
Alas! and am I born for this, To wear this slavish chain? Deprived of all created bliss, Through hardship, toil and pain!
The Creditor To His Proud Debtor
Ha, tott'ring Johny, strut and boast, But think of what your feathers cost; Your crowing days are short at most, You bloom but soon to fade;
The Slave's Complaint
Am I sadly cast aside, On misfortune's rugged tide? Will the world my pains deride Forever?
Sweet memory, like a pleasing dream, Still lends a dull and feeble ray; For ages with her vestige teems, When beauty's trace is worn away.
The Lover's Farewell
And wilt thou, love, my soul display, And all my secret thoughts betray? I strove but could not hold thee fast,
Death Of An Old Carriage Horse
I was a harness horse, Constrained to travel weak or strong, With orders from oppressing force, Push along, push along.
Whilst tracing thy visage I sink in emotion, For no other damsel so wond'rous I see; Thy looks are so pleasing, thy charms so amazing,
Division Of An Estate
It well bespeaks a man beheaded, quite Divested of the laurel robe of life, When every member struggles for its base,
Man, A Torch
Blown up with painful care and hard to light, A glimmering torch blown in a moment out, Suspended by a web, an angler's bait, Floating at stake along the stream of chance,
George Moses Horton, Myself
I feel myself in need Of the inspiring strains of ancient lore, My heart to lift, my empty mind to feed, And all the world explore.
On Hearing Of The Intention Of A Gentlem...
When on life's ocean first I spread my sail, I then implored a mild auspicious gale; And from the slippery strand I took my flight,
General Grant -- The Hero Of The War
Brave Grant, thou hero of the war, Thou art the emblem of the morning star, Transpiring from the East to banish fear,
Deceitful worm, that undermines the clay, Which slyly steals the thoughtless soul away, Pervading neighborhoods with sad surprise,
On The Pleasures Of College Life
With tears I leave these academic bowers, And cease to cull the scientific flowers; With tears I hail the fair succeeding train,
When auburn Autumn mounts the stage,
And Summer fails her charms to yield,
Bleak nature turns another page,
To light the glories of the field.
At once the vale declines to bloom,
The forest smiles no longer gay;
Gardens are left without perfume,
The rose and lilly pine away.