On Winter

written by George Moses Horton

On Winter

— George Moses Horton

When smiling Summer's charms are past,
The voice of music dies;
Then Winter pours his chilling blast
From rough inclement skies.

The pensive dove shuts up her throat,
The larks forbear to soar,
Or raise one sweet, delightful note,
Which charm'd the ear before.

The screech-owl peals her shivering tone
Upon the brink of night;
As some sequestered child unknown,
Which feared to come in sight.

The cattle all desert the field,
And eager seek the glades
Of naked trees, which once did yield
Their sweet and pleasant shades.

The humming insects all are still,
The beetles rise no more.
The constant tinkling of the bell,
Along the heath is o'er.

Stern Boreas hurls each piercing gale
With snow-clad wings along,
Discharging volleys mixed with hail
Which chill the breeze of song.

Lo, all the Southern windows close,
Whence spicy breezes roll;
The herbage sinks in sad repose,
And Winter sweeps the whole.

Thus after youth old age comes on,
And brings the frost of time,
And e'er our vigor has withdrawn,
We shed the rose of prime.

Alas! how quick it is the case,
The scion youth is grown--
How soon it runs its morning race,
And beauty's sun goes down.

The Autumn of declining years
Must blanch the father's head,
Encumbered with a load of cares,
When youthful charms have fled.

About the poet

George Moses Horton

George Moses Horton was an African-American poet. Biography 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...

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