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

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "Unexpressed" (1896)

Deep in my heart that aches with the repression,
   And strives with plenitude of bitter pain,
There lives a thought that clamors for expression,
   And spends its undelivered force in vain.

What boots it that some other may have thought it?
   The right of thoughts ' expression is divine;
The price of pain I pay for it has bought it,
   I care not who lays claim to it-'tis mine!

And yet not mine until it be delivered;
   The manner of its birth shall prove the test.
Alas, alas, my rock of pride is shivered- 
   I beat my brow---the thought still unexpressed.

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

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