African American Poetry (1870-1927): A Digital Anthology

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "Life" (1896)

  A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in,
  A minute to smile and an hour to weep in,
  A pint of joy to a peck of trouble,
  And never a laugh but the moans come double;
          And that is life!

  A crust and a corner that love makes precious,
  With a smile to warm and the tears to refresh us;
  And joy seems sweeter when cares come after,
  And a moan is the finest of foils for laughter;
          And that is life!

Published in Lyrics of Lowly Life (1896)
Also published in Countee Cullen's Caroling Dusk (1927)