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

Carrie Williams Clifford, "Paul Laurence Dunbar" (1922)

Paul Laurence Dunbar

(Upon reading the Introduction to "Lyrics of Lowly Life" 
by William Dean Howells)

The beetling night was fading toward the dawn,
When strange, weird sounds smote subtly on the ear
Of one far up the heights, who paused to hear
The song of him, who doggedly pressed on
From that low vale whence Hope seemed almost gone.
Persistently the sound rose loud and clear
Surcharged of times with radiating cheer--
Of times with sadness of a soul in pawn.

The hearthside lyrics trickled from his heart,
With simple melody and baffling art!
A traveller above called down the slope
And Dunbar answered, "Comrade! now I hope!"
One white, one black, but one in spirit, they
Symbolic are of God's Eternal Way! 

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