George Moses Horton

(1797 - 1884 / Northampton, North Carolina)

On Death


Deceitful worm, that undermines the clay,
Which slyly steals the thoughtless soul away,
Pervading neighborhoods with sad surprise,
Like sudden storms of wind and thunder rise.


The sounding death-watch lurks within the wall
Away some unsuspecting soul to call:
The pendant willow droops her waving head,
And sighing zephyrs whisper of the dead.


Methinks I hear the doleful midnight knell--
Some parting spirit bids the world farewell;
The taper burns as conscious of distress,
And seems to show the living number less.


Must a lov'd daughter from her father part,
And grieve for one who lies so near her heart?
And must she for the fatal loss bemoan,
Or faint to hear his last departing groan.


Methinks I see him speechless gaze awhile,
And on her drop his last paternal smile;
With gushing tears closing his humid eyes,
The last pulse beats, and in her arms he dies.


With pallid cheeks she lingers round his bier,
And heaves a farewell sigh with every tear;
With sorrow she consigns him to the dust,
And silent owns the fatal sentence just.


Still her sequestered mother seems to weep,
And spurns the balm which constitutes her sleep;
Her plaintive murmurs float upon the gale,
And almost make the stubborn rocks bewail.


O what is like the awful breach of death,
Whose fatal stroke invades the creature's breath!
It bids the voice of desolation roll,
And strikes the deepest awe within the bravest soul.

Submitted: Saturday, April 10, 2010

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