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,
‘Till death my sweet and favored friend,
Bade me from life to push along.

--George Moses Horton,  an enslaved African American poet in Chatham County, North Carolina.

 

Credit text

Published in Naked Genius (Raleigh: William B. Smith, 1865).