September 2, 2011

Campbell: bliss, pure, bright, supernal

Little is known for certain about the African American poet Alfred Gibbs Campbell. Among the few facts which can be proven: in 1857, he was a vice-president of the American Anti-Slavery Society under William Lloyd Garrison, and on September 2, 1852, he married Anne Hutchinson of Trenton, New Jersey. He was born circa 1826 and became the editor of a monthly newspaper in New Jersey, The Alarm Bell, where he advocated temperance, abolitionism, and women's rights. He also showed a concern for individual consciousness over the power of both organized religion and secular authority.

Because of the lack of biographical information on Campbell, it is difficult to determine his relationship with Mrs. Campbell. Perhaps the best information comes from his poem "To My Absent Wife," included in his 1883 collection of poems (the title page of that book is to the right):

     My dear, true wife,
     Life of my life,
And my heart's solace only,
     Thou knowest not
     How drear my lot
Without thee, and how lonely!

     Yet well I know,
     Come weal or woe,
Thy heart is mine forever:
     Though far apart
     From me thou art,
Our true souls naught can sever!

     What though the pall
     Of sorrow fall,
And shroud all things in sadness,
     Love's holy light
     Shall banish night,
And change the gloom to gladness!

     Love cannot die!
     Tis Deity!
'Tis bliss, pure, bright, supernal;
     Though worlds shall fall
     To ruin, — all,
Yes, all of Love's eternal!

*I found this information about Campbell in the 1989 book Invisible Poets: Afro-Americans of the Nineteenth Century, edited by Joan R. Sherman.

No comments:

Post a Comment