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Best Famous Paul Laurence Dunbar Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Paul Laurence Dunbar poems. This is a select list of the best famous Paul Laurence Dunbar poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Paul Laurence Dunbar poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Paul Laurence Dunbar poems.

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Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | Create an image from this poem

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs? Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile Beneath our feet, and long the mile; But let the world dream otherwise, We wear the mask!
Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | Create an image from this poem

Morning

 You know how it is waking
from a dream certain you can fly
and that someone, long gone, returned

and you are filled with longing,
for a brief moment, to drive off
the road and feel nothing

or to see the loved one and feel
everything.
Perhaps one morning, taking brush to hair you'll wonder how much of your life you've spent at this task or signing your name or rising in fog in near darkness to ready for work.
Day begins with other people's needs first and your thoughts disperse like breath.
In the in-between hour, the solitary hour, before day begins all the world gradually reappears car by car.
Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | Create an image from this poem

A CHOICE

They please me not—these solemn songs
That hint of sermons covered up.
'Tis true the world should heed its wrongs,
But in a poem let me sup,
Not simples brewed to cure or ease
Humanity's confessed disease,
But the spirit-wine of a singing line,
[Pg 127]Or a dew-drop in a honey cup!
Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | Create an image from this poem

Frederick Douglass

 A hush is over all the teeming lists,
And there is pause, a breath-space in the strife;
A spirit brave has passed beyond the mists
And vapors that obscure the sun of life.
And Ethiopia, with bosom torn, Laments the passing of her noblest born.
She weeps for him a mother's burning tears-- She loved him with a mother's deepest love He was her champion thro' direful years, And held her weal all other ends above.
When Bondage held her bleeding in the dust, He raised her up and whispered, 'Hope and Trust.
' For her his voice, a fearless clarion, rung That broke in warning on the ears of men; For her the strong bow of his pow'r he strung And sent his arrows to the very den Where grim Oppression held his bloody place And gloated o'er the mis'ries of a race.
And he was no soft-tongued apologist; He spoke straight-forward, fearlessly uncowed; The sunlight of his truth dispelled the mist And set in bold relief each dark-hued cloud; To sin and crime he gave their proper hue, And hurled at evil what was evil's due.
Thro' good and ill report he cleaved his way Right onward, with his face set toward the heights, Nor feared to face the foeman's dread array-- The lash of scorn, the sting of petty spites.
He dared the lightning in the lightning's track, And answered thunder with his thunder back.
When men maligned him and their torrent wrath In furious imprecations o'er him broke, He kept his counsel as he kept his path; 'Twas for his race, not for himself, he spoke.
He knew the import of his Master's call And felt himself too mighty to be small.
No miser in the good he held was he-- His kindness followed his horizon's rim.
His heart, his talents and his hands were free To all who truly needed aught of him.
Where poverty and ignorance were rife, He gave his bounty as he gave his life.
The place and cause that first aroused his might Still proved its pow'r until his latest day.
In Freedom's lists and for the aid of Right Still in the foremost rank he waged the fray; Wrong lived; His occupation was not gone.
He died in action with his armor on! We weep for him, but we have touched his hand, And felt the magic of his presence nigh, The current that he sent thro' out the land, The kindling spirit of his battle-cry O'er all that holds us we shall triumph yet And place our banner where his hopes were set! Oh, Douglass, thou hast passed beyond the shore, But still thy voice is ringing o'er the gale! Thou 'st taught thy race how high her hopes may soar And bade her seek the heights, nor faint, nor fail.
She will not fail, she heeds thy stirring cry, She knows thy guardian spirit will be nigh, And rising from beneath the chast'ning rod, She stretches out her bleeding hands to God!
Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | Create an image from this poem

Sympathy

 Therefore I dare reveal my private woe, 
The secret blots of my imperfect heart, 
Nor strive to shrink or swell mine own desert, 
Nor beautify nor hide.
For this I know, That even as I am, thou also art.
Thou past heroic forms unmoved shalt go, To pause and bide with me, to whisper low: "Not I alone am weak, not I apart Must suffer, struggle, conquer day by day.
Here is my very cross by strangers borne, Here is my bosom-sin wherefrom I pray Hourly deliverance--this my rose, my thorn.
This woman my soul's need can understand, Stretching o'er silent gulfs her sister hand.
"
Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | Create an image from this poem

THE DISCOVERY

These are the days of elfs and fays:
Who says that with the dreams of myth,
These imps and elves disport themselves?
Ah no, along the paths of song
Do all the tiny folk belong.
Round all our homes,
Kobolds and gnomes do daily cling,
Then nightly fling their lanterns out.
And shout on shout, they join the rout,
And sing, and sing, within the sweet enchanted ring.
Where gleamed the guile of moonlight's smile,
Once paused I, listening for a while,
And heard the lay, unknown by day,—
The fairies' dancing roundelay.
Queen Mab was there, her shimmering hair
Each fairy prince's heart's despair.
She smiled to see their sparkling glee,
And once I ween, she smiled at me.
Since when, you may by night or day,
Dispute the sway of elf-folk gay;
But, hear me, stay![Pg 252]
I've learned the way to find Queen
Mab and elf and fay.
Where e'er by streams, the moonlight gleams,
Or on a meadow softly beams,
There, footing round on dew-lit ground,
The fairy folk may all be found.
Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | Create an image from this poem

ODE FOR MEMORIAL DAY

Done are the toils and the wearisome marches,
Done is the summons of bugle and drum.
Softly and sweetly the sky over-arches,
Shelt'ring a land where Rebellion is dumb.
Dark were the days of the country's derangement,
Sad were the hours when the conflict was on,
But through the gloom of fraternal estrangement
God sent his light, and we welcome the dawn.
O'er the expanse of our mighty dominions,
Sweeping away to the uttermost parts,
Peace, the wide-flying, on untiring pinions,
Bringeth her message of joy to our hearts.
Ah, but this joy which our minds cannot measure,
What did it cost for our fathers to gain!
Bought at the price of the heart's dearest treasure,
[Pg 23]Born out of travail and sorrow and pain;
Born in the battle where fleet Death was flying,
Slaying with sabre-stroke bloody and fell;
Born where the heroes and martyrs were dying,
Torn by the fury of bullet and shell.
Ah, but the day is past: silent the rattle,
And the confusion that followed the fight.
Peace to the heroes who died in the battle,
Martyrs to truth and the crowning of Right!
Out of the blood of a conflict fraternal,
Out of the dust and the dimness of death,
Burst into blossoms of glory eternal
Flowers that sweeten the world with their breath.
Flowers of charity, peace, and devotion
Bloom in the hearts that are empty of strife;
Love that is boundless and broad as the ocean
Leaps into beauty and fulness of life.
So, with the singing of paeans and chorals,
And with the flag flashing high in the sun,
Place on the graves of our heroes the laurels
Which their unfaltering valor has won!
Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | Create an image from this poem

CURIOSITY

Mammy's in de kitchen, an' de do' is shet;
All de pickaninnies climb an' tug an' sweat,[Pg 242]
Gittin' to de winder, stickin' dah lak flies,
Evah one ermong us des all nose an' eyes.
"Whut's she cookin', Isaac?"
"Whut's she cookin', Jake?"
"Is it sweet pertaters? Is hit pie er cake?"
But we couldn't mek out even whah we stood
Whut was mammy cookin' dat could smell so good.
Mammy spread de winder, an' she frown an' frown,
How de pickaninnies come a-tum-blin' down!
Den she say: "Ef you-all keeps a-peepin' in,
How I'se gwine to whup you, my! 't 'ill be a sin!
Need n' come a-sniffin' an' a-nosin' hyeah,
'Ca'se I knows my business, nevah feah."
Won't somebody tell us—how I wish dey would!—
Whut is mammy cookin' dat it smells so good?
We know she means business, an' we dassent stay,
Dough it's mighty tryin' fuh to go erway;
But we goes a-troopin' down de ol' wood-track
'Twell dat steamin' kitchen brings us stealin' back,
Climbin' an' a-peepin' so's to see inside.
Whut on earf kin mammy be so sha'p to hide?
I'd des up an' tell folks w'en I knowed I could,
Ef I was a-cookin' t'ings dat smelt so good.
Mammy in de oven, an' I see huh smile;
Moufs mus' be a-wat'rin' roun' hyeah fuh a mile;
Den we almos' hollah ez we hu'ies down,
'Ca'se hit's apple dumplin's, big an' fat an' brown!
W'en de do' is opened, solemn lak an' slow,
Wisht you see us settin' all dah in a row
Innercent an' p'opah, des lak chillun should
W'en dey mammy's cookin' t'ings dat smell so good.
Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | Create an image from this poem

A PRAYER

O Lord, the hard-won miles
Have worn my stumbling feet:
Oh, soothe me with thy smiles,
And make my life complete.
The thorns were thick and keen
Where'er I trembling trod;
The way was long between
My wounded feet and God.
Where healing waters flow
Do thou my footsteps lead.
My heart is aching so;
Thy gracious balm I need.
Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | Create an image from this poem

YESTERDAY AND TO-MORROW

Yesterday I held your hand,
Reverently I pressed it,
And its gentle yieldingness
From my soul I blessed it.
But to-day I sit alone,
Sad and sore repining;
Must our gold forever know
Flames for the refining?
Yesterday I walked with you,
Could a day be sweeter?
Life was all a lyric song
Set to tricksy meter.
Ah, to-day is like a dirge,—
Place my arms around you,
Let me feel the same dear joy
As when first I found you.
Let me once retrace my steps,
From these roads unpleasant,
Let my heart and mind and soul
All ignore the present.
Yesterday the iron seared
And to-day means sorrow.
Pause, my soul, arise, arise,
Look where gleams the morrow.[Pg 258]
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