The Southern Refugee

By George Moses Horton 1798–1883 George Moses Horton
What sudden ill the world await,
    From my dear residence I roam;
I must deplore the bitter fate,
    To straggle from my native home.
 
The verdant willow droops her head,
    And seems to bid a fare thee well;
The flowers with tears their fragrance shed,
    Alas! their parting tale to tell.
 
’Tis like the loss of Paradise,
    Or Eden’s garden left in gloom,
Where grief affords us no device;
    Such is thy lot, my native home.
 
I never, never shall forget
    My sad departure far away,
Until the sun of life is set,
    And leaves behind no beam of day.
 
How can I from my seat remove
    And leave my ever devoted home,
And the dear garden which I love,
    The beauty of my native home?
 
Alas! sequestered, set aside,
    It is a mournful tale to tell;
’Tis like a lone deserted bride
    That bade her bridegroom fare thee well.
 
I trust I soon shall dry the tear
    And leave forever hence to roam,
Far from a residence so dear,
    The place of beauty—my native home.

Source: “Words for the Hour”: A New Anthology of American Civil War Poetry, edited by Faith Barrett and Cristanne Miller (University of Massachusetts Press, 2005)

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Poet George Moses Horton 1798–1883

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Quatrain, Rhymed Stanza

Biography

Born a slave on William Horton’s tobacco plantation, George Moses Horton taught himself to read. Around 1815 he began composing poems in his head, saying them aloud and “selling” them to an increasingly large crowd of buyers at the weekly Chapel Hill farmers market. Students at the nearby University of North Carolina bought his love poems and lent him books. As his fame spread, he gained the attention of Caroline Lee Whiting . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Quatrain, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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