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George Moses Horton

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,
Snatch'd from its hook by the fish of poverty,
A silent cavern is his last abode;
The king's repository veil'd with gloom,
The umbrage of a thousand oziers bowed,
The couch of hallowed bones, the grave's asylum,
The brave's retreat and end of ev'ry care.

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A Billet Doux

My brightest hopes are mix'd with tears,
Like hues of light and gloom;
As when mid sun-shine rain appears,
Love rises with a thousand fears,

To pine and still to bloom.
When I have told my last fond tale
In lines of song to thee,
And for departure spread my sail,
Say, lovely princess, wilt thou fail
To drop a tear for me?

O, princess, should my votive strain
Salute thy ear no more,
Like one deserted on the main,
I still shall gaze, alas! but vain,
On wedlock's flow'ry shore.

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The Graduate Leaving College

What summons do I hear?
The morning peal, departure's knell;
My eyes let fall a friendly tear,
And bid this place farewell.

Attending servants come,
The carriage wheels like thunders roar,
To bear the pensive seniors home,
Here to be seen no more.

Pass one more transient night,
The morning sweeps the college clean;
The graduate takes his last long flight,
No more in college seen.

The bee, which courts the flower,
Must with some pain itself employ,
And then fly, at the day's last hour,
Home to its hive with joy.

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To Catharine

I'll love thee as long as I live,
Whate'er thy condition may be;
All else but my life would I give,
That thou wast as partial to me.

I love thee because thou art fair,
And fancy no other beside;
I languish thy pleasures to share,
Whatever my life may betide.

I'll love thee when youth's vital beam
Grows dim on the visage of cares;
And trace back on time's rapid stream,
Thy beauty when sinking in years.

Though nature no longer is gay,
With blooms which the simple adore,
Let virtue forbid me to say,
That Cath'rine is lovely no more.

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On The Conversion Of A Sister

'Tis the voice of my sister at home,
Resign'd 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 th' 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,
Distill'd from the fountain above,
The joy which awaits her at home.

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Death Of A Favorite Chamber Maid

O death, thy power I own,
Whose mission was to rush,
And snatch the rose, so quickly blown,
Down from its native bush;
The flower of beauty doom'd to pine,
Ascends from this to worlds divine.

Death is a joyful doom,
Let tears of sorrow dry,
The rose on earth but fades to bloom
And blossom in the sky.
Why should the soul resist the hand
That bears her to celestial land.

Then, bonny bird, farewell,
Till hence we meet again;
Perhaps I have not long to dwell
Within this cumb'rous chain,
Till on elysian shores eve meet,
Till grief is lost and joy complete.

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On The Death Of An Infant

Blest Babe! it at length has withdrawn,
The Seraphs have rock'd it to sleep;
Away with an angelic smile it has gone,
And left a sad parent to weep!


It soars from the ocean of pain,
On breezes of precious perfume;
O be not discouraged when death is but gain--
The triumph of life from the tomb.


With pleasure I thought it my own,
And smil'd on its infantile charms;
But some mystic bird, like an eagle, came down,
And snatch'd it away from my arms.


Blest Babe, it ascends into Heaven,
It mounts with delight at the call;

[...] Read more

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To A Departing Favorite

Thou mayst retire, but think of me
When thou art gone afar,
Where'er in life thy travels be,
If tost along the brackish sea,
Or borne upon the car.

Thou mayst retire, I care not where,
Thy name my theme shall be;
With thee in heart I shall be there,
Content thy good or ill to share,
If dead to lodge with thee.

Thou mayst retire beyond the deep,
And leave thy sister train,
To roam the wilds where dangers sleep,
And leave affection sad to weep
In bitterness and pain.

Thou mayst retire, and yet be glad
To leave me thus alone,

[...] Read more

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To Eliza

Eliza, tell thy lover why
Or what induced thee to deceive me?
Fare thee well--away I fly--
I shun the lass who thus will grieve me.


Eliza, still thou art my song,
Although by force I may forsake thee;
Fare thee well, for I was wrong
To woo thee while another take thee.


Eliza, pause and think a while--
Sweet lass! I shall forget thee never:
Fare thee well! although I smile,
I grieve to give thee up forever.


Eliza, I shall think of thee--
My heart shall ever twine about thee;

[...] Read more

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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.
I had no space of rest,
And took at forks the roughest prong,
Still by the cruel driver pressed,
Push along, push along.
Vain strove the idle bird,
To charm me with her artless song,
But pleasure lingered from the word,
Push along, push along.

The order of the day
Was push, the peal of every tongue,
The only word was all the way,
Push along, push along.

Thus to my journey's end,
Had I to travel right or wrong,

[...] Read more

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