Praise Of Creation

George Moses Horton


George Moses Horton

Nationality: American

George Moses Horton was an African-American poet.

He remembered as the “Black bard of North Carolina.”

‘Praise Of Creation’ is about the creation of our universe. There are lots of biblical references in particular to the fall of man. It begins by exulting god and praising the effects of creation. Though splattered throughout are warning flags about the fate of our planet. Around the tenth stanza, the mood of the poem changes and I think this represents the fall of man. This could be a euphemism for slavery, however. The final stanza acts almost as a mirror image to the first stanza which gives the poem symmetry.

Praise Of Creation By George Moses Horton


Form and Tone

Praise Of Creation’ is written in free verse. It is fourteen stanzas long and follows a strict ABAB rhyming pattern. The poem starts off praising creation and god. It is very religious in its themes but in the final third of the poem, it becomes far more dark and somber. It almost takes the form of talking about how God created an amazing world and how mankind has spoiled it.


Praise Of Creation Analysis

First Stanza

Creation fires my tongue!
Nature thy anthems raise;
And spread the universal song
Of thy Creator’s praise!

This first stanza is full of exultation. There are two exclamation points used in this stanza, this exemplifies the excitement suggested by the poet’s words. This stanza is all about words and sounds. Look at the words used anthem, tongue, song.


Second Stanza

Heaven’s chief delight was Man
Before Creation’s birth–
Ordained with joy to lead the van,
And reign the lord of earth.

The first line of this stanza is effectively claiming that man was god’s favorite creation. The bible seems to back this up as god was willing to sacrifice his son in order to protect mankind. It later talks about the purpose of man’s existence. To lead the van and reign. Effectively this stanza is saying that the world was created for man to rule.


Third Stanza

When Sin was quite unknown,
And all the woes it brought,
He hailed the morn without a groan
Or one corroding thought.

This harkens back to the biblical story of the garden of Eden. It talks about the purity of man before the “original sin.” That is the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit. It is claimed that that action brought woes.


Fourth Stanza

When each revolving wheel
Assumed its sphere sublime,
Submissive Earth then heard the peal,
And struck the march of time.

It isn’t entirely clear what the revolving wheels that are referred to here are. My theory is that the narrator is talking about the formation of the planets. After all the bible says in the begging god created the heavens and the earth. What is interesting is the narrator personifying our planet and calling it submissive. What is the suggestion here that earth is at the mercy of something? Perhaps at the mercy of the people that reside on it?


Fifth Stanza

The march in Heaven begun,
And splendor filled the skies,
When Wisdom bade the morning Sun
With joy from chaos rise.

I think what the narrator is suggesting in this stanza that the glorious nature of earth was mirrored in heaven. Everything seems okay with the universe at this point in ‘Praise Of Creation’.


Sixth Stanza

The angels heard the tune
Throughout creation ring:
They seized their golden harps as soon
And touched on every string.

Once again this stanza is thematically about the noise. Throughout ‘Praise Of Creation’ so far noise has been associated with praise and this instance is no different. This time it the angels reveling and celebrating creation.


Seventh Stanza

When time and space were young,
And music rolled along–
The morning stars together sung,
And Heaven was drown’d in song.

Once again through the use of music and sound, the narrator gives a feeling of unity. This stanza seems to be before the fall of man. It describes unity and harmony between the celestial bodies.


Eighth Stanza

Ye towering eagles soar,
And fan Creation’s blaze,
And ye terrific lion’s roar,
To your Creator’s praise.

The animals used in this stanza are perhaps the most interesting part about it. The poet draws on the eagle which is an animal often associated with America and the lion that are traditionally associated with pride. It wouldn’t be too far removed from the truth to associate these two animals with a sense of morality either. Creation is described as a blaze in this stanza, is this foreshadowing? Is the suggestion that creation could become out of control?


Ninth Stanza

Responsive thunders roll,
Loud acclamations sound,
And show your Maker’s vast control
O’er all the worlds around.

The ninth stanza of ‘Praise Of Creation’ continues the repetitive theme of loud sound. Only this time they are coming from things that have less positive connotations. Whereas music and the raw of a lion all have positive connotations, the same probably can’t be said of thunder which you would associate perhaps with the floods during the story of Noah’s Ark? However these sounds are supposed to representative of the maker’s power, so are perhaps not meant to be associated with negativity. This is certainly quite ambiguous.


Tenth Stanza

Stupendous mountains smoke,
And lift your summits high,
To him who all your terrors woke,
Dark’ning the sapphire sky.

The first line of this stanza seems to be a reference to volcanoes. The final two lines of this stanza could well be referring to Adam. Assuming this is indeed the tale of the fall of man it wouldn’t be a leap to suggest that he that awoke the “terrors”.


Eleventh Stanza

Now let my muse descend,
To view the march below–
Ye subterraneous worlds attend
And bid your chorus flow.

Asking for his muse to descend is his way of asking god to come. He wants god to see what has become of the people that he has created and see what has become of the people that praise him.


Twelfth Stanza

Ye vast volcanoes yell,
Whence fiery cliffs are hurled;
And all ye liquid oceans swell
Beneath the solid world.

Once again the narrator draws on the image of a volcano. This gives this stanza an almost apocalyptic feel. I don’t think this is accidental as the narrator serves to emphasize the changes that have taken place.


Thirteenth Stanza

Ye cataracts combine,
Nor let the pæan cease–
The universal concert join,
Thou dismal precipice.

The suggestion here is that God is blind to the devastation. It is clear that this guy believes in god but he wants some proof. He wants God to intervene.


Fourteenth Stanza

But halt my feeble tongue,
My weary muse delays:
But, oh my soul, still float along
Upon the flood of praise!

This stanza of ‘Praise Of Creation’ almost runs as a mirror image to the first. To begin with, the narrator’s tongue was fiery and passionate and now it is weary. Things have clearly taken their toll but the narrator is still able to offer praise. He is still seemingly a believer.


About George Moses Horton

George Moses Horton is a poet who famously was the first black poets to have his work published in the South of the United States. Horton wrote poetry and released his collection whilst still a slave. He wasn’t emancipated until the end of the civil war. Stylistically his work mirrors a lot of European poets that were considered contemporary at the time. Not surprisingly his poems were often about his time spent as a slave, though weren’t necessarily autobiographical but more a generalization.

Lee-James Bovey Poetry Expert
Lee-James, a.k.a. LJ, has been a Poem Analysis team member ever since Novemer 2015, providing critical analysis of poems from the past and present. Nowadays, he helps manage the team and the website.

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