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

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "By the Stream" (1896)

By the stream I dream in calm delight, and watch as in a glass,
  How the clouds like crowds of snowy-hued and white-robed maidens pass,
  And the water into ripples breaks and sparkles as it spreads,
  Like a host of armored knights with silver helmets on their heads.
  And I deem the stream an emblem fit of human life may go,
  For I find a mind may sparkle much and yet but shallows show,
  And a soul may glow with myriad lights and wondrous mysteries,
  When it only lies a dormant thing and mirrors what it sees.

Published in Lyrics of Lowly Life, 1896
Also published in Colored American Magazine, 1908

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