The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar
311 Pages
English
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The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar

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311 Pages
English

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Published 08 December 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar, by Paul Laurence Dunbar This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar Author: Paul Laurence Dunbar Commentator: William Dean Howells Release Date: May 7, 2006 [EBook #18338] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK POEMS OF DUNBAR *** Produced by Leonard Johnson and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net THE COMPLETE POEMS OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR WITH THE INTRODUCTION TO "LYRICS OF LOWLY LIFE" BY W. D. HOWELLS NEW YORK DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 1922 Copyright 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905 BY THE C ENTURY C O . Copyright 1897, 1898, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905 BY THE C URTIS PUBLISHING C O . Copyright 1898 BY THE OUTLOOK C O . Copyright 1898 By J. B. WALKER Copyright 1903 By W. H. GANNETT Copyright 1896, 1899, 1903, 1905, 1913 By DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY PRINTED IN U. S. A. DEDICATIONS LYRICS OF LOWLY LIFE TO MY MOTHER LYRICS OF THE HEARTHSIDE TO ALICE LYRICS OF LOVE AND LAUGHTER TO MISS CATHERINE IMPEY LYRICS OF SUNSHINE AND SHADOW TO MRS. FRANK CONOVER WITH THANKS FOR HER LONG BELIEF INTRODUCTION TO LYRICS OF LOWLY LIFE I think I should scarcely trouble the reader with a special appeal in behalf of this book, if it had not specially appealed to me for reasons apart from the author's race, origin, and condition. The world is too old now, and I find myself too much of its mood, to care for the work of a poet because he is black, because his father and mother were slaves, because he was, before and after he began to write poems, an elevator-boy. These facts would certainly attract me to him as a man, if I knew him to have a literary ambition, but when it came to his literary art, I must judge it irrespective of these facts, and enjoy or endure it for what it was in itself. It seems to me that this was my experience with the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar when I found it in another form, and in justice to him I cannot wish that it should be otherwise with his readers here. Still, it will legitimately interest those who like to know the causes, or, if these may not be known, the sources, of things, to learn that the father and mother of the first poet of his race in our language were negroes without admixture of white blood. The father escaped from slavery in Kentucky to freedom in Canada, while there was still no hope of freedom otherwise; but the mother was freed by the events of the civil war, and came North to Ohio, where their son was born at Dayton, and grew up with such chances and mischances for mental training as everywhere befall the children of the poor. He has told me that his father picked up the trade of a plasterer, and when he had taught himself to read, loved chiefly to read history. The boy's mother shared his passion for literature, with a special love of poetry, and after the father died she struggled on in more than the poverty she had shared with him. She could value the faculty which her son showed first in prose sketches and attempts at fiction, and she was proud of the praise and kindness they won him among the people of the town, where he has never been without the warmest and kindest friends. In fact from every part of Ohio and from several cities of the adjoining States, there came letters in cordial appreciation of the critical recognition which it was my pleasure no less than my duty to offer Paul Dunbar's work in another place. It seemed to me a happy omen for him that so many people who had known him, or known of him, were glad of a stranger's good word; and it was gratifying to see that at home he was esteemed for the things he had done rather than because as the son of negro slaves he had done them. If a prophet is often without honor in his own country, it surely is nothing against him when he has it. In this case it deprived me of the glory of a discoverer; but that is sometimes a barren joy, and I am always willing to forego it. What struck me in reading Mr. Dunbar's poetry was what had already struck his friends in Ohio and Indiana, in Kentucky and Illinois. They had felt, as I felt, that however gifted his race had proven itself in music, in oratory, in several of the other arts, here was the first instance of an American negro who had evinced innate distinction in literature. In my criticism of his book I had alleged Dumas in France, and I had forgetfully failed to allege the far greater Pushkin in Russia; but these were both mulattoes, who might have been supposed to derive their qualities from white blood vastly more artistic than ours, and who were the creatures of an environment more favorable to their literary development. So far as I could remember, Paul Dunbar was the only man of pure African blood and of American civilization to feel the negro life aesthetically and express it lyrically. It seemed to me that this had come to its most modern consciousness in him, and that his brilliant and unique achievement was to have studied the American negro objectively, and to have represented him as he found him to be, with humor, with sympathy, and yet with what the reader must instinctively feel to be entire truthfulness. I said that a race which had come to this effect in any member of it, had attained civilization in him, and I permitted myself the imaginative prophecy that the hostilities and the prejudices which had so long constrained his race were destined to vanish in the arts; that these were to be the final proof that God had made of one blood all nations of men. I thought his merits positive and not comparative; and I held that if his black poems had been written by a white man, I should not have found them less admirable. I accepted them as an evidence of the essential unity of the human race, which does not think or feel, black in one and white in another, but humanly in all. Yet it appeared to me then, and it appears to me now, that there is a precious difference of temperament between the races which it would be a great pity ever to lose, and that this is best preserved and most charmingly suggested by Mr. Dunbar in those pieces of his where he studies the moods and traits of his race in its own accent of our English. We call such pieces dialect pieces for want of some closer phrase, but they are really not dialect so much as delightful personal attempts and failures for the written and spoken language. In nothing is his essentially refined and delicate art so well shown as in these pieces, which, as I ventured to say, described the range between appetite and emotion, with certain lifts far beyond and above it, which is the range of the race. He reveals in these a finely ironical perception of the negro's limitations, with a tenderness for them which I think so very rare as to be almost quite new. I should say, perhaps, that it was this humorous quality which Mr. Dunbar had added to our literature, and it would be this which would most distinguish him, now and hereafter. It is something that one feels in nearly all the dialect pieces; and I hope that in the present collection he has kept all of these in his earlier volume, and added others to them. But the contents of this book are wholly of his own choosing, and I do not know how much or little he may have preferred the poems in literary English. Some of these I thought very good, and even more than very good, but not distinctively his contribution to the body of American poetry. What I mean is that several people might have written them; but I do not know any one else at present who could quite have written the dialect pieces. These are divinations and reports of what passes in the hearts and minds of a lowly people whose poetry had hitherto been inarticulately expressed in music, but now finds, for the first time in our tongue, literary interpretation of a very artistic completeness. I say the event is interesting, but how important it shall be can be determined only by Mr. Dunbar's future performance. I cannot undertake to prophesy concerning this; but if he should do nothing more than he has done, I should feel that he had made the strongest claim for the negro in English literature that the negro has yet made. He has at least produced something that, however we may critically disagree about it, we cannot well refuse to enjoy; in more than one piece he has produced a work of art. W. D. HOWELLS. INDEX OF TITLES ABSENCE ACCOUNTABILITY ADVICE AFTER A VISIT AFTER MANY D AYS AFTER THE QUARREL AFTER WHILE ALEXANDER C RUMMELL—D EAD ALICE ANCHORED ANGELINA ANTE-BELLUM SERMON, AN APPRECIATION AT C ANDLE-LIGHTIN' TIME AT C HESHIRE C HEESE AT LOAFING -H OLT AT N IGHT AT SUNSET TIME AT THE TAVERN AWAKENING , THE BACK-LOG SONG , A BALLAD BALLADE BANJO SONG , A BARRIER, THE 93 5 250 42 267 40 53 113 40 256 138 13 247 155 129 263 254 263 226 252 143 58 204 20 99 BEHIND THE ARRAS BEIN' BACK H OME BEYOND THE YEARS BLACK SAMSON OF BRANDYWINE BLUE BOHEMIAN, THE BOOGAH MAN, THE BOOKER T. WASHINGTON BORDER BALLAD, A BOYS' SUMMER SONG , A BREAKING THE C HARM BRIDAL MEASURE, A BY R UGGED WAYS BY THE STREAM C ABIN TALE, A C APTURE, THE C AREER, A C HANGE H AS C OME, THE C HANGE, THE C HANGING TIME C HASE, THE C HOICE, A C HRISTMUS IS A-C OMIN' C HRISTMAS ON THE PLANTATION C HRISTMAS C HRISTMAS C AROL C HRISTMAS FOLKSONG , A C HRISTMAS IN THE H EART C IRCUMSTANCES ALTER C ASES C OLORED BAND, THE C OLORED SOLDIERS, THE C OLUMBIAN ODE C OMMUNION C OMPARISON C OMPENSATION C ONFESSIONAL C ONFIDENCE, A C ONQUERORS, THE C ONSCIENCE AND R EMORSE C OQUETTE C ONQUERED, A C ORN-SONG , A C ORN-STALK FIDDLE, THE C RISIS, THE C URIOSITY C URTAIN D ANCE, THE D AT OL' MARE O' MINE D AWN D AY 94 259 41 205 253 92 185 209 48 235 149 97 215 50 153 275 285 58 258 72 258 125 153 137 269 278 236 105 261 178 50 47 110 59 256 116 73 112 31 62 59 16 111 241 42 170 189 65 248 D EACON JONES' GRIEVANCE D EAD D EATH D EATH OF THE FIRST BORN, THE D EATH SONG , A D EBT, THE D E C RITTERS' D ANCE D ELINQUENT, THE D ELY D ESERTED PLANTATION, THE D ESPAIR D E WAY T'INGS C OME D IFFERENCES D ILETTANTE, THE: A MODERN TYPE D INAH KNEADING D OUGH D IPLOMACY D IRGE D IRGE FOR A SOLDIER D ISAPPOINTED D ISCOVERED D ISCOVERY, THE D ISTINCTION D ISTURBER, THE D OUGLASS D OVE, THE D REAM SONG I D REAM SONG II D REAMER, THE D REAMIN' TOWN D REAMS D REAMS D RIZZLE D ROWSY D AY, A EASY-GOIN' FELLER, AN ENCOURAGED ENCOURAGEMENT END OF THE C HAPTER, THE EQUIPMENT ERE SLEEP C OMES D OWN TO SOOTHE THE WEARY EYES EVENING EXPECTATION FAITH FAREWELL TO ARCADY FARM C HILD'S LULLABY, THE FISHER C HILD'S LULLABY, THE FISHING FLORIDA N IGHT, A FOOLIN' WID DE SEASONS FOR THE MAN WHO FAILS 39 73 227 258 142 213 181 64 148 67 261 225 192 49 188 238 66 199 60 60 251 114 131 208 167 104 104 100 254 100 166 180 65 49 238 184 101 276 3 276 131 244 123 245 244 172 191 139 118 FOREST GREETING , THE FOREVER FOUNT OF TEARS, THE FREDERICK D OUGLASS FROLIC, A FROM THE PORCH AT R UNNYMEDE GARRET, THE GOLDEN D AY, A GOOD-N IGHT GOURD, THE GRIEVANCE, A GROWIN' GRAY H ARRIET BEECHER STOWE H AUNTED OAK, THE H E H AD H IS D REAM H ER THOUGHT AND H IS H OPE H OW LUCY BACKSLID H OW SHALL I WOO THEE "H OWDY, H ONEY, H OWDY!" H UNTING SONG H YMN H YMN H YMN, A IF IONE IN AN ENGLISH GARDEN IN AUGUST IN MAY IN SUMMER IN SUMMER TIME IN THE MORNING IN THE TENDS OF AKBAR INSPIRATION INVITATION TO LOVE ITCHING H EELS JAMES WHITCOMB R ILEY JEALOUS JILTED JOGGIN' ERLONG JOHNNY SPEAKS JUST WHISTLE A BIT KEEP A-PLUGGIN' AWAY KEEP A SONG UP ON DE WAY KIDNAPED KING IS D EAD, THE KNIGHT, THE 237 240 224 6 200 275 96 251 61 107 188 80 119 219 61 93 247 158 289 196 150 66 133 98 75 31 111 130 166 91 280 190 223 179 61 222 287 145 136 165 235 98 46 169 255 105 108 LAPSE, THE LAWYERS' WAYS, THE LAZY D AY, THE LESSON, THE LETTER, A LIFE LIFE'S TRAGEDY LI'L' GAL LILY OF THE VALLEY, THE LIMITATIONS LINCOLN LITTLE BROWN BABY LITTLE C HRISTMAS BASKET, A LITTLE LUCY LANDMAN LIZA MAY LONESOME LONG AGO 'LONG TO 'DS N IGHT LONGING LOOKING -GLASS, THE LOST D REAM, A LOVE LOVE AND GRIEF LOVE D ESPOILED LOVE LETTER, A LOVE-SONG LOVE SONG , A LOVER AND THE MOON, THE LOVER'S LANE LOVE'S APOTHEOSIS LOVE'S C ASTLE LOVE'S D RAFT LOVE'S H UMILITY LOVE'S PHASES LOVE'S PICTURES LOVE'S SEASONS LULLABY LYRIC, A MADRIGAL, A MARE R UBRUM MASTER-PLAYER THE MASTERS, THE MEADOW LARK, THE MELANCHOLIA MEMORY OF MARTHA, THE MERRY AUTUMN MISTY D AY, A MISAPPREHENSION MONK'S WALK, THE 122 22 249 8 151 8 225 207 237 250 184 134 174 107 267 79 192 187 21 206 270 103 102 122 266 210 222 29 132 89 201 252 106 117 282 215 144 288 287 110 17 258 71 54 194 56 207 117 209