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

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "The Path" (1896)

There are no beaten paths to Glory's height,
There are no rules to compass greatness known;
Each for himself must cleave a path alone,
And press his own way forward in the fight.
Smooth is the way to ease and calm delight,
And soft the road Sloth chooseth for her own;
But he who craves the flower of life full-blown,
Must struggle up in all his armor dight!
What though the burden bear him sorely down
And crush to dust the mountain of his pride,
Oh, then, with strong heart let him still abide
For rugged is the roadway to renown,
Nor may we hope to gain the envied crown
Till he hath thrust the looming rocks aside.

Published in Lyrics of Lowly Life, 1896
Also published in Colored American Magazine, February 1907

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