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

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "The Seedling" (1895)


* Permission, Dodd, Mead & Co.
As a quiet little seedling,
Lay within its darksome bed,
To itself it fell a-talking,
And this is what it said:
"I am not so very robust,
But I'll do the best I can,"
And the seedling from that moment,
Its work of life began.
So it pushed a little leaflet,
Up into the light of day,
To examine the surroundings,
And show the rest the way.
The leaflet liked the prospect,
So it called its brother, Stem,
Then two other leaflets heard it,
And quickly followed them.
To be sure, the haste and hurry,
Made the seedling sweat an
But almost before it knew it,
It found itself a plant.
The sunshine poured upon it,
And the clouds, they gave a shower;
And the little plant kept growing,
Till it found itself a flower.
Little folks, be like the seedling,
Always do the best you can,

Every child must share life's labor,
Just as well as every man.
And the sun and showers will help you,
Through the lonesome, struggling hours,
Till you raise to light and beauty,
Virtue's fair, unfading flowers.

Published in "Lyrics of Lowly Life" (1895)
Also published in "The Dunbar Speaker and Entertainer" (1920)

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