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Paul laurence dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

POEMS
FOLLOWERS
6

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 BLACK TROOPS IN CUBA

Round the wide earth, from the red field your valour has won,
Blown with the breath of the far—speaking gun,
Goes the word.
Bravely you spoke through the battle cloud heavy and dun.
Tossed though the speech toward the mist—hidden sun,
The world heard.

Hell would have shrunk from you seeking it fresh from the fray,
Grim with the dust of the battle, and gray
From the fight.
Heaven would have crowned you, with crowns not of gold but of bay,
Owning you fit for the light of her day,
Men of night.

Far through the cycle of years and of lives that shall come,
There shall speak voices long muffled and dumb,
Out of fear.
And through the noises of trade and the turbulent hum,
Truth shall rise over the militant drum,
Loud and clear.

Then on the cheek of the honester nation that grows,
All for their love of you, not for your woes,
There shall lie
Tears that shall be to your souls as the dew to the rose;
Afterward thanks, that the present yet knows
Not to ply!

W’en daih’s chillun in de house,
Dey keep on a—gittin’ tall;
But de folks don’ seem to see
Dat dey’s growin’ up at all,
'Twell dey fin’ out some fine day
Dat de gals has 'menced to grow,
W’en dey notice as dey pass
Dat de front gate’s saggin’ low.
W’en de hinges creak an’ cry,
An’ de bahs go slantin’ down,
You kin reckon dat hit’s time
Fu’ to cas’ yo’ eye erroun’,
'Cause daih ain’t no 'sputin’ dis,
Hit’s de trues’ sign to show
Dat daih’s cou’tin goin’ on
W’en de ol’ front gate sags low.
Oh, you grumble an’ complain,
An’ you prop dat gate up right;
But you notice right nex’ day
Dat hit’s in de same ol’ plight.
So you fin’ dat hit’s a rule,
An’ daih ain’ no use to blow,
W’en de gals is growin’ up,
Dat de front gate will sag low.
Den you t’ink o’ yo’ young days,
W’en you cou’ted Sally Jane,
An’ you so’t o’ feel ashamed
Fu’ to grumble an’ complain,
'Cause yo’ ricerlection says,
An’ you know hits wo’ds is so,
Dat huh pappy had a time
Wid his front gate saggin’ low.
So you jes’ looks on an’ smiles
At 'em leanin’ on de gate,
Tryin’ to t’ink whut he kin say
Fu’ to keep him daih so late,
But you lets dat gate erlone,
Fu’ yo’ ‘sperunce goes to show,
’Twell de gals is ma’ied off,
It gwine keep on saggin’ low.

Temples he built and palaces of air,
And, with the artist’s parent—pride aglow,
His fancy saw his vague ideals grow
Into creations marvellously fair;

He set his foot upon Fame’s nether stair.
But ah, his dream,—it had entranced him so
He could not move. He could no farther go;
But paused in joy that he was even there!

He did not wake until one day there gleamed
Thro’ his dark consciousness a light that racked
His being till he rose, alert to act.
But lo! what he had dreamed, the while he dreamed,
Another, wedding action unto thought,
Into the living, pulsing world had brought.

A lilt and a swing,
And a ditty to sing,
Or ever the night grow old;
The wine is within,
And I’m sure t’were a sin
For a soldier to choose to be cold, my dear,
For a soldier to choose to be cold.
We’re right for a spell,
But the fever is —well,
No thing to be braved, at least;
So bring me the wine;
No low fever in mine,
For a drink more kind than a priest, my dear,
For a drink is more kind than a
priest.

DOLLY sits a—quilting by her mother, stitch by stich,
Gracious, how my pulses throb, how my fingers itch,
While I note her dainty waist and her slender hand,
As she matches this and that, she stitches strand by strand.
And I long to tell her Life’s a quilt and I’m a patch;
Love will do the stitching if she’ll only be my match.

In the tents of Akbar
Are dole and grief to—day,
For the flower of all the Indies
Has gone the silent way.

In the tents of Akbar
Are emptiness and gloom,
And where the dancers gather,
The silence of the tomb.

Across the yellow desert,
Across the burning sands,
Old Akbar wanders madly,
And wrings his fevered hands.

And ever makes his moaning
To the unanswering sky,
For Sutna, lovely Sutna,
Who was so fair to die.

For Sutna danced at morning,
And Sutna danced at eve;
Her dusky eyes half hidden
Behind her silken sleeve.

Her pearly teeth out—glancing
Between her coral lips,
The tremulous rhythm of passion
Marked by her quivering hips.

As lovely as a jewel
Of fire and dewdrop blent,
So danced the maiden Sutna
In gallant Akbar’s tent.

And one who saw her dancing,
Saw her bosom’s fall and rise
Put all his body’s yearning
Into his lovelit eyes.

Then Akbar came and drove him—
A jackal—from his door,
And bade him wander far and look
On Sutna’s face no more.

Some day the sea disgorges,
The wilderness gives back,
Those half—dead who have wandered,
Aimless, across its track.

And he returned—the lover,
Haggard of brow and spent;
He found fair Sutna standing
Before her master’s tent.

'Not mine, nor Akbar’s, Sutna!'
He cried and closely pressed,
And drove his craven dagger
Straight to the maiden’s breast.

Oh, weep, oh, weep, for Sutna,
So young, so dear, so fair,
Her face is gray and silent
Beneath her dusky hair.

And wail, oh, wail, for Akbar,
Who walks the desert sands,
Crying aloud for Sutna,
Wringing his fevered hands.

In the tents of Akbar
The tears of sorrow run,
But the corpse of Sutna’s slayer,
Lies rotting in the sun.

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.

I’ve been list’nin’ to them lawyers
In the court house up the street,
An’ I’ve come to the conclusion
That I’m most completely beat.
Fust one feller riz to argy,
An’ he boldly waded in
As he dressed the tremblin’ pris’ner
In a coat o’ deep—dyed sin.
Why, he painted him all over
In a hue o’ blackest crime,
An’ he smeared his reputation
With the thickest kind o’ grime,
Tell I found myself a—wond’rin’,
In a misty way and dim,
How the Lord had come to fashion
Sich an awful man as him.
Then the other lawyer started,
An’ with brimmin’, tearful eyes,
Said his client was a martyr
That was brought to sacrifice.
An’ he give to that same pris’ner
Every blessed human grace,
Tell I saw the light o’ virtue
Fairly shinin’ from his face.
Then I own 'at I was puzzled
How sich things could rightly be;
An’ this aggervatin’ question
Seems to keep a—puzzlin’ me.
So, will some one please inform me,
An’ this mystery unroll—
How an angel an’ a devil
Can persess the self—same soul?

DIS is gospel weathah sho’ —
Hills is sawt o’ hazy.
Meddahs level ez a flo’
Callin’ to de lazy.
Sky all white wif streaks o’ blue,
Sunshine softly gleamin’,
D’ain’t no wuk hit’s right to do,
Nothin’ 's right but dreamin’.
Dreamin’ by de rivah side
Wif de watahs glist’nin’,
Feelin’ good an’ satisfied
Ez you lay a—list’nin’
To the little nakid boys
Splashin’ in de watah,
Hollerin’ fu’ to spress deir joys
Jes’ lak youngsters ought to.
Squir’l a—tippin’ on his toes,
So’s to hide an’ view you;
Whole flocks o’ camp—meetin’ crows
Shoutin’ hallelujah.
Peckahwood erpon de tree
Tappin’ lak a hammah;
Jaybird chattin’ wif a bee,
Tryin’ to teach him grammah.
Breeze is blowin’ wif perfume,
Jes’ enough to tease you;
Hollyhocks is all in bloom,
Smellin’ fu’ to please you.
Go 'way, folks, an’ let me 'lone,
Times is gettin’ dearah —
Summah’s settin’ on de th’one,
An’ I’m a—layin’ neah huh!

In Life’s Red Sea with faith I plant my feet,
And wait the sound of that sustaining word
Which long ago the men of Israel heard,
When Pharaoh’s host behind them, fierce and fleet,
Raged on, consuming with revengeful heat.
Why are the barrier waters still unstirred?—
That struggling faith may die of hope deferred?
Is God not sitting in His ancient seat?

The billows swirl above my trembling limbs,
And almost chill my anxious heart to doubt
And disbelief, long conquered and defied.
But tho’ the music of my hopeful hymns
Is drowned by curses of the raging rout,
No voice yet bids th’ opposing waves divide!

A YOUTH went faring up and down,
Alack and well—a—day.
He fared him to the market town,
Alack and well—a—day.
And there he met a maiden fair,
With hazel eyes and auburn hair;
His heart went from him then and there,
Alack and well—a—day.
She posies sold right merrily,
Alack and well—a—day;
But not a flower was fair as she,
Alack and well—a—day.
He bought a rose and sighed a sigh,
‘Ah, dearest maiden, would that I
Might dare the seller too to buy!’
Alack and well—a—day.
She tossed her head, the coy coquette,
Alack and well—a—day.
'I’m not, sir, in the market yet,'
Alack and well—a—day.
'Your love must cool upon a shelf;
Tho’ much I sell for gold and pelf,
I’m yet too young to sell myself,'
Alack and well—a—day.
The youth was filled with sorrow sore,
Alack and well—a—day;
And looked he at the maid once more,
Alack and well—a—day.
Then loud he cried, 'Fair maiden, if
Too young to sell, now as I live,
You’re not too young yourself to give,'
Alack and well—a—day.
The little maid cast down her eyes,
Alack and well—a—day,
And many a flush began to rise,
Alack and well—a—day.
‘Why, since you are so bold,’ she said,
‘I doubt not you are highly bred,
So take me!’ and the twain were wed,
Alack and well—a—day.