African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

George B. Thornton, "The Trial on Mount Olympus" (1905)

George B. Thornton, "The Trial on Mount Olympus" (1905)


It was on Mount Olympus, in a still hour of the night,
The gods were all assembled, and the moon shone full and bright;
The nightingales were singing gay with fond, full -throated ease,
On middle moonlight mounted and the lofty limbs of trees.


The liquid songs of music the nightly songsters made,
Filled all the air with melodies and floated down the glade:
But now they all are silenced, and such sober stillness falls
As haunts dead men's lifeless breast or pictures on the walls.


On that night Paul and Peter, two Apostles sacred came
To pass their judgment on the gods and persecute the same.
Around their heads were halos of a holy, splendid sheen,
Below, the gods assembled, awaiting dread were seen.


And Peter motioned with his hand and forward Zeus came,
Full proud and brave of his renown and of his lasting fame;
But as he stood before the man that fished in Galilee,
He thought of titles he had lost-his high supremacy.


He raised his head in high disdain and anger fierce and dire,
His eyes shown as the lightnings, lcoking, acting, burning ire;
An' lightning 'gan to flash an' flame an' snap an' hiss an' roar,
An' all Olympus 'gan to shake as in the days of yore.


But Peter pressed the fiery bolts with light, unerring tread,
And turning to the ruler of this high Olympus, said:
"Thou art condemned an' cursed an' judged through all eternity!"
And Zeus vanished through the earth and said, "Necessity!"


Poseidon, strong and mighty, next approached the holy man,
With night depicted in his eyes, a trident in his hand.
"An' thou art he who rules the waves," gocd Peter angry spurned
Poseidon screamed with sudden pain an' into vapor turned.


Apollo and the muses nine behind him forward came,
As if in turn it was their time to register their name;
But wise Apollo turned to Paul and in a voice of dread,
Resembling wondrous music mixed with mighty murmurs, said:


"I am the essence of the soul of sweet humanity,
The life an' health an' sportive youth of frolic gayety
Slay me not! Protect me, Lord, for 'twas ordained on high
That I be god of sacred song, and never, never die!"


The moment next of silence was when Peter raised his eyes,
(An' Paul was meditating , ) and he looked up to the skies.
The thoughtful Paul arose and said," This high behest I give,
Let Song immortal, sacred, free, henceforth forever live!"


Apollo with his lute in hand sat on the earthly ground, [ around;
The night was clear, the fountains roared, and perfume smelled
The muses nine like sisters dear did gather in a ring,
An' tones of mighty minstrelsy they gan to gayly sing:


"Holy Birth of God on High,
To thy fost'ring care we fly,
After meeting drearily.
Joy and music do we bring
Do protect us that we sing
Songs of luscious melody.

Published in Colored American Magazine, February 1905

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