Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 – February 9, 1906) was a seminal African American poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dunbar gained national recognition for his 1896 "Ode to Ethiopia", one poem in the collection Lyrics of Lowly Life.. African American poet novelist and playwright
O'ER fallow plains and fertile meads,
AURORA lifts the torch of day;
The shad'wy brow of Night recedes,
Cold dew-drops fall from every spray;
Now o'er the thistle's rugged head,
Thin veils of filmy vapour fly,
On ev'ry violet's perfum'd bed
The sparkling gems of Nature lie.
The hill's tall brow is crown'd with gold,
The Milk-maid trills her jocund lay,
The Shepherd-boy unpens his fold,
The Lambs along the meadows play;
The pilf'ring LARK, with speckled breast,
From the ripe sheaf's rich banquet flies;
And lifting high his plumy crest,
Soars the proud tenant of the skies.
The PEASANT steals with timid feet,
And gently taps the cottage door;
Or on the green sod takes his seat,
And chaunts some well-known ditty o'er;
Wak'd by the strain, the blushing MAID,
Unpractis'd in Love's mazy wiles,
In clean, but homely garb array'd,
From the small casement peepsand smiles.
Proud CHANTICLEER unfolds his wing,
And flutt'ring struts in plumage gay;
The glades with vocal echoes ring,
Soft odours deck the hawthorn spray;
The SCHOOL-BOY saunters o'er the green,
With satchel, fill'd with Learning's store;
While with dejected, sullen mien,
He cons his tedious lesson o'er.
When WINTER spreads her banner chill,
And sweeps the vale with freezing pow'r;
And binds in spells the vagrant rill,
And shrivels ev'ry ling'ring flow'r;
When NATURE quits her verdant dress,
And drops to earth her icy tears;
E'EN THEN thy tardy glance can bless,
And soft thy weeping eye appears.
Then at the Horn's enliv'ning peal,
Keen Sportsmen for the chase prepare;
Thro' the young Copse shrill echoes steal,
Swift flies the tim'rous, panting hare;
From ev'ry straw-thatch'd cottage soars
Blue curling smoke in many a cloud;
Around the Barn's expanded doors,
The feather'd throng impatient crowd.
Such are thy charms! health-breathing scene!
Where Nature's children revel gay;
Where Plenty smiles with radiant mien,
And Labour crowns the circling day;
Where Peace, in conscious Virtue blest,
Invites the Heart to joy supreme;
While polish'd Splendour pants for rest
And pines in Fashion's fev'rish dream.