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Paul laurence dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

POEMAS
SEGUIDORES
6

If you could sit with me beside the sea to-day,
And whisper with me sweetest dreamings o’er and o’er;
I think I should not find the clouds so dim and gray,
And not so loud the waves complaining at the shore.
If you could sit with me upon the shore to-day,
And hold my hand in yours as in the days of old,
I think I should not mind the chill baptismal spray,
Nor find my hand and heart and all the world so cold.
If you could walk with me upon the strand to-day,
And tell me that my longing love had won your own,
I think all my sad thoughts would then be put away,
And I could give back laughter for the Ocean’s moan!

Out of my heart, one day, I wrote a song,
With my heart’s blood imbued,
Instinct with passion, tremulously strong,
With grief subdued;
Breathing a fortitude
Pain—bought.
And one who claimed much love for what I wrought,
Read and considered it,
And spoke:
‘Ay, brother,—’t is well writ,
But where’s the joke?'

1

Dear critic, who my lightness so deplores,
Would I might study to be prince of bores,
Right wisely would I rule that dull estate—
But, sir, I may not, till you abdicate.

TELL your love where the roses blow,
And the hearts of the lilies quiver,
Not in the city’s gleam and glow,
But down by a half—sunned river.
Not in the crowded ball—room’s glare,
That would be fatal, Marie, Marie,
How can she answer you then and there?
So come then and stroll with me, my dear,
Down where the birds call, Marie, Marie.

The smell of the sea in my nostrils,
The sound of the sea in mine ears;
The touch of the spray on my burning face,
Like the mist of reluctant tears.

The blue of the sky above me,
The green of the waves beneath;
The sun flashing down on a gray—white sail
Like a scimitar from its sheath.

And ever the breaking billows,
And ever the rocks’ disdain;
And ever a thrill in mine inmost heart
That my reason cannot explain.

So I say to my heart, 'Be silent,
The mystery of time is here;
Death’s way will be plain when we fathom the main,
And the secret of life be clear.'

She told her beads with down—cast eyes,
Within the ancient chapel dim;
And ever as her fingers slim
Slipt o’er th’ insensate ivories,
My rapt soul followed, spaniel—wise.
Ah, many were the beads she wore;
But as she told them o’er and o’er,
They did not number all my sighs.
My heart was filled with unvoiced cries
And prayers and pleadings unexpressed;
But while I burned with Love’s unrest,
She told her beads with down—cast eyes.

I don’t believe in 'ristercrats
An’ never did, you see;
The plain ol’ homelike sorter folks
Is good enough fur me.
O’ course, I don’t desire a man
To be too tarnal rough,
But then, I think all folks should know
When they air nice enough.

Now there is folks in this here world,
From peasant up to king,
Who want to be so awful nice
They overdo the thing.
That’s jest the thing that makes me sick,
An’ quicker 'n a wink
I set it down that them same folks
Ain’t half so good 's you think.

I like to see a man dress nice,
In clothes becomin’ too;
I like to see a woman fix
As women orter to do;
An’ boys an’ gals I like to see
Look fresh an’ young an’ spry.—
We all must have our vanity
An’ pride before we die.

But I jedge no man by his clothes,—
Nor gentleman nor tramp;
The man that wears the finest suit
May be the biggest scamp,
An’ he whose limbs air clad in rags
That make a mournful sight,
In life’s great battle may have proved
A hero in the fight.

I don’t believe in 'ristercrats;
I like the honest tan
That lies upon the healthful cheek
An’ speaks the honest man;
I like to grasp the brawny hand
That labor’s lips have kissed,
For he who has not labored here
Life’s greatest pride has missed:

The pride to feel that yore own strength
Has cleaved fur you the way
To heights to which you were not born,
But struggled day by day.
What though the thousands sneer an’ scoff,
An’ scorn yore humble birth?
Kings are but puppets; you are king
By right o’ royal worth.

The man who simply sits an’ waits
Fur good to come along,
Ain’t worth the breath that one would take
To tell him he is wrong.
Fur good ain’t flowin’ round this world
Fur every fool to sup;
You 've got to put yore see—ers on,
An’ go an’ hunt it up.

Good goes with honesty, I say,
To honour an’ to bless;
To rich an’ poor alike it brings
A wealth o’ happiness.
The 'ristercrats ain’t got it all,
Fur much to their su’prise,
That’s one of earth’s most blessed things
They can’t monopolize.

LET me close the eyes of my soul
That I may not see
What stands between thee and me.
Let me shut the ears of my heart
That I may not hear
A voice that drowns yours, my dear.
Let me cut the cords of my life,
Of my desolate being,
Since cursed is my hearing and seeing.

GOD has his plans, and what if we
With our sight be too blind to see
Their full fruition; cannot he,
Who made it, solve the mystery?
One whom we loved has fall’n asleep,
Not died; although her calm be deep,
Some new, unknown, and strange surprise
In Heaven holds enrapt her eyes.
And can you blame her that her gaze
Is turned away from earthly ways,
When to her eyes God’s light and love
Have giv’n the view of things above?
A gentle spirit sweetly good,
The pearl of precious womanhood;
Who heard the voice of duty clear,
And found her mission soon and near.
She loved all nature, flowers fair,
The warmth of sun, the kiss of air,
The birds that filled the sky with song,
The stream that laughed its way along.
Her home to her was shrine and throne,
But one love held her not alone;
She sought out poverty and grief,
Who touched her robe and found relief.
So sped she in her Master’s work,
Too busy and too brave to shirk,
When through the silence, dusk and dim,
God called her and she fled to him.
We wonder at the early call,
And tears of sorrow can but fall
For her o’er whom we spread the pall;
But faith, sweet faith, is over all.
The house is dust, the voice is dumb,
But through undying years to come,
The spark that glowed within her soul
Shall light our footsteps to the goal.
She went her way; but oh, she trod
The path that led her straight to God.
Such lives as this put death to scorn;
They lose our day to find God’s morn.

I STOOD by the shore at the death of day,
As the sun sank flaming red;
And the face of the waters that spread away
Was as gray as the face of the dead.
And I heard the cry of the wanton sea
And the moan of the wailing wind;
For love’s sweet pain in his heart had he,
But the gray old sea had sinned.
The wind was young and the sea was old,
But their cries went up together;
The wind was warm and the sea was cold,
For age makes wintry weather.
So they cried aloud and they wept amain,
Till the sky grew dark to hear it;
And out of its folds crept the misty rain,
In its shroud, like a troubled spirit.
For the wind was wild with a hopeless love,
And the sea was sad at heart
At many a crime that he wot of,
Wherein he had played his part.
He thought of the gallant ships gone down
By the will of his wicked waves;
And he thought how the churchyard in the town
Held the sea—made widows’ graves.
The wild wind thought of the love he had left
Afar in an Eastern land,
And he longed, as long the much bereft,
For the touch of her perfumed hand.
In his winding wail and his deep—heaved sigh
His aching grief found vent;
While the sea looked up at the bending sky
And murmured: ‘I repent.’
But e’en as he spoke, a ship came by,
That bravely ploughed the main,
And a light came into the sea’s green eye,
And his heart grew hard again.
Then he spoke to the wind: ‘Friend, seest thou not
Yon vessel is eastward bound?
Pray speed with it to the happy spot
Where thy loved one may be found.’
And the wind rose up in a dear delight,
And after the good ship sped;
But the crafty sea by his wicked might
Kept the vessel ever ahead.
Till the wind grew fierce in his despair,
And white on the brow and lip.
He tore his garments and tore his hair,
And fell on the flying ship.
And the ship went down, for a rock was there,
And the sailless sea loomed black;
While burdened again with dole and care,
The wind came moaning back.
And still he moans from his bosom hot
Where his raging grief lies pent,
And ever when the ships come not,
The sea says: ‘I repent,’

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

1

In the forenoon’s restful quiet,
When the boys are off at school,
When the window lights are shaded
And the chimney—corner cool,
Then the old man seeks his armchair,
Lights his pipe and settles back;
Falls a—dreaming as he draws it
Till the smoke—wreaths gather black.

And the tear—drops come a—trickling
Down his cheeks, a silver flow—
Smoke or memories you wonder,
But you never ask him,—no;
For there 's something almost sacred
To the other family folks
In those moods of silent dreaming
When the old man smokes.

Ah, perhaps he sits there dreaming
Of the love of other days
And of how he used to lead her
Through the merry dance’s maze;
How he called her ‘little princess,’
And, to please her, used to twine
Tender wreaths to crown her tresses,
From the ‘matrimony vine.’

Then before his mental vision
Comes, perhaps, a sadder day,
When they left his little princess
Sleeping with her fellow clay.
How his young heart throbbed, and pained him!
Why, the memory of it chokes!
Is it of these things he ‘s thinking
When the old man smokes?

But some brighter thoughts possess him,
For the tears are dried the while.
And the old, worn face is wrinkled
In a reminiscent smile,
From the middle of the forehead
To the feebly trembling lip,
At some ancient prank remembered
Or some long unheard—of quip.

Then the lips relax their tension
And the pipe begins to slide,
Till in little clouds of ashes,
It falls softly at his side;
And his head bends low and lower
Till his chin lies on his breast,
And he sits in peaceful slumber
Like a little child at rest.

Dear old man, there ’s something sad’ning,
In these dreamy moods of yours,
Since the present proves so fleeting,
All the past for you endures.
Weeping at forgotten sorrows,
Smiling at forgotten jokes;
Life epitomized in minutes,
When the old man smokes.