Saturday, November 26, 2011

THE SLUMBERS OF THE DEAD, by Edwin J. Barclay

The eighteenth president of Liberia was also a brilliant poet who wrote THE LONE STAR FOREVER  at nineteen years old. Here is another gem from the pen of Edwin Barclay.





African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P.Murray Collection, 1818-1907

THE SLUMBERS OF THE DEAD
 by Edwin J. Barclay.Deep in the heart's unfathom'd caves.
Where tumults ocean ceaseless roars,
Where pleasure oft high revell holds.
Whence hearts most weak, are thence made bold,
Besides a sympathetic thought.
For those who have their finis found,
And they are sacred, hallowed thoughts.
Which come of life's enchanted march;
Bespoiling[?] naught, by naught bespoiled,
Cleansing the mind and giving joy.
To those whom Fortune favors well.


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And when toward the close of life.
With slacken'd footsteps on we tread,
Toward the region of the dead.
Should we not sacred hold those thoughts.
Which from our past experience rise?
And granting this, should we not have
In early life, some sympathy
For those who near their goal have gone?
Yet, can there be an end for those.
Whom Heaven's mighty king did frame?
An end! can there exist an end
to pre-decreed eternity?
Most surely not, for as we gaze
Far into space, we can descern
No risen no end of the unknown.
-One which to grasp, and then proclaim
In loud stentorian voice and clear:-
"O hear ye men! your God is found.
Behold him! the Unknown, Unseen.
Unserved, Unworshiped, and Unpraised!


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Behold Him! Come and fallye down,
Before His throne and give Him praise!"
Nor can we with our mortal eyes.
Behold Him in some far-off land,
Where seeing Him we strive to rush,
And reach the shining silv'ry shore,
Thro' whose most verdant fields do flow,
Rivers of brilliant precious ore.
Nay! we must cease to breathe this foul,
-This murdering mortal air, and seek
Us for the end for which we must.
This life forego. Yet is there such
An end more wanted than this life?
Perchance there be no end in death;
What land is seen when Death his blade
Both sheath? I hear of heaven's land
Whose streets of glittering gold are made,
Whose agate places receive
The passing rays of brilliant light,
From vast Celestia's countless suns.


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But can there any such exist,-
A land material, and blest
With endless day, and is not hot
From having ceaseless luminance?
Whose inmates naught but love enhance,
And where they feed on honeyed milk;
Where all is pleasure and content;
Where night is alien, and light
Unfolds his brilliant rays, and reigns
Eternal Monarch of the days!
And if there doth exist this land.
Who guides us by the hand, and heads
Us to its shores of indolence?
And where doth band the troops he leads
Into this place? But cease thee Muse!
Where soarest thou?. Unto what plains
Have you now flown? Dost thou not know
If thou ascendest into tho vast
Etherial heights, into this earth

Thou will return in fury at


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Your fruitless search, for some unknown,
-Some unexisting land;-a land
Which is a recompense to those,
Whose mortal life has virtuous been
Nay! nay! thou canst not find this shore,
Whose joys, the fevered brains of some.
Present to man. These pleasant blinds
And fancies are but symbols of
The non-existing heavenly life.
Which man suppose truely is.
And as they argue warmly, this
Most pleasing fancy, which some wild,
Enthusiastic, misled child
Of darkness teaches them: Thou must
Return and by your failure show
To them, what vast and grave mistakes
They oftimes make do not misjudge
O men! these pleasing visions which
Have been designed, but to compell
Obedience to that natural force


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Which caused our complex being, to be.
But rather ye should strive to live,
A life of virture and of love.
Regardless of what good ye do,
Yet, mindful of your evil acts;
For both are counted in the day,
Wherein we crave that pleasant sleep.
-That endless slumber of the dead.
And when on earth ye daily wend
Your footsteps with Time's fleeting wings
This, ever hold within your minds:-
That conscience does not die, but lives
Eternally; yea, while this frame,
Has wasted [all its?] mortal force,
And lay out in the burying ground,
A bleached and useless [mond?] of clay.

From the Barclay Padmore Wiles Families website

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    I am one of the great great grand of the late Edwin j. Barclay my name is Rev. leo boimah Brosius

    ReplyDelete