Monday, February 11, 2019

George Moses Horton

George Moses Horton (1797—1884) is a North Carolina poet who was a slave. He was born on the plantation of William Horton, where he taught himself to read, although he could not write. He composed poems in his mind, and then recited them to others.

His first book The Hope of Liberty was published in 1829 after his master had permitted him to visit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where students encouraged his poetry, and where a professor’s wife tutored and assisted him. This made him the first black author in the South to publish a book. His hope had been to earn enough from his poetry to secure his freedom, but this was not the case. He wrote two further books of poetry: Poetical Works (1845) and Naked Genius (1865).

He wrote many poems of Christian faith, such as: “On the Truth of the Saviour” which includes the lines:
-----Behold the storms at his rebuke,
-----All calm upon the sea—
-----How can we for another look,
-----When none can work as he?

George Moses Horton served in the Union army during the American Civil War; after the war he moved to Philadelphia, where he lived until his death.

On The Conversion of a Sister

'Tis the voice of my sister at home,
Resigned to the treasures above,
Inviting the strangers to come,
And feast at the banquet of love.

'Tis a spirit cut loose from its chain,
'Tis the voice of a culprit forgiven,
Restored from a prison of pain,
With the sound of a concert from heaven.

'Tis a beam from the regions of light,
A touch of beatific fire;
A spirit exulting for flight,
With a strong and impatient desire.

'Tis a drop from the ocean of love,
A foretaste of pleasures to come,
Distilled from the fountain above,
The joy which awaits her at home.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.