“Little Brown Baby” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 – 1906)


Little brown baby wif spa’klin’ eyes,
  Come to yo’ pappy an’ set on his knee.
What you been doin’, suh—makin’ san’ pies?
  Look at dat bib—You’s ez du’ty ez me.
Look at dat mouf—dat’s merlasses, I bet;
  Come hyeah, Maria, an’ wipe off his han’s.
Bees gwine to ketch you an’ eat you up yit,
  Bein’ so sticky an’ sweet—goodness lan’s!

Little brown baby wif spa’klin’ eyes
  Who’s pappy’s darlin’ an’ who’s pappy’s chile?
Who is it all de day nevah once tries
  Fu’ to be cross, er once loses dat smile?
Whah did you git dem teef? My, you’s a scamp!
  Whah did dat dimple come f’om in yo’ chin?
Pappy do’ know you—I b’lieves you’s a tramp;
  Mammy, dis hyeah’s some ol’ straggler got in!

Let’s th’ow him outen de do’ in de san’,
  We do’ want stragglers a-layin’ ‘roun’ hyeah;
Let’s gin him ‘way to de big buggah-man;
  I know he’s hidin’ erroun’ hyeah right neah.
Buggah-man, buggah-man, come in de do’,
  Hyeah’s a bad boy you kin have fu’ to eat.
Mammy an’ pappy do’ want him no mo’,
  Swaller him down f’om his haid to his feet!

Dah, now, I t’ought dat you’d hug me up close.
  Go back, ol’ buggah, you sha’n’t have dis boy.
He ain’t no tramp, ner no straggler, of co’se;
  He’s pappy’s pa’dner an’ playmate an’ joy.
Come to you’ pallet now—go to you’ res’;
  Wisht you could allus know ease an’ cleah skies;
Wisht you could stay jes’ a chile on my breas’—
  Little brown baby wif spa’klin’ eyes!

“Dreams” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 – 1906)


What dreams we have and how they fly
Like rosy clouds across the sky;
Of wealth, of fame, of sure success,
Of love that comes to cheer and bless;
And how they wither, how they fade,
The waning wealth, the jilting jade –
The fame that for a moment gleams,
Then flies forever, -dreams, ah -dreams!

O burning doubt and long regret
O tears with which our eyes are wet,
Heart-throbs, heart-aches, the glut of pain,
The somber cloud, the bitter rain,
You were not of those dreams – ah! well,
Your full fruition who can tell?
Wealth, fame, and love, ah! love that beams
Upon our souls, all dreams – ah! dreams.

“Evening” by Paul Laurence Dunbar


Evening

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The moon begins her stately ride
Across the summer sky;
The happy wavelets lash the shore,—
The tide is rising high.

Beneath some friendly blade of grass
The lazy beetle cowers;
The coffers of the air are filled
With offerings from the flowers.

And slowly buzzing o’er my head
A swallow wings her flight;
I hear the weary plowman sing
As falls the restful night.

“Ships That Pass In The Night” by Paul Laurence Dunbar


Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing;

I look far out into the pregnant night,

Where I can hear a solemn booming gun

And catch the gleaming of a random light,

That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing.

My tearful eyes my soul’s deep hurt are glassing;

For I would hail and check that ship of ships.

I stretch my hands imploring, cry aloud,

My voice falls dead a foot from mine own lips,

And but its ghost doth reach that vessel, passing, passing.

O Earth, O Sky, O Ocean, both surpassing,

O heart of mine, O soul that dreads the dark!

Is there no hope for me? Is there no way

That I may sight and check that speeding bark

Which out of sight and sound is passing, passing?

“Morning Song of Love” by Paul Laurence Dunbar


Darling, my darling, my heart is on the wing,
It flies to thee this morning like a bird,
Like happy birds in springtime my spirits soar and sing,
The same sweet song thine ears have often heard.

The sun is in my window, the shadow on the lea,
The wind is moving in the branches green,
And all my life, my darling, is turning unto thee,
And kneeling at thy feet, my own, my queen.

The golden bells are ringing across the distant hill,
Their merry peals come to me soft and clear,
But in my heart’s deep chapel all incense-filled and still
A sweeter bell is sounding for thee, dear.

The bell of love invites thee to come and seek the shrine
Whose altar is erected unto thee,
The offerings, the sacrifice, the prayers, the chants are thine,
And I, my love, thy humble priest will be.

“He Had His Dream” by Paul Laurance Dunbar


Paul Laurence DunbarHe had his dream, and all through life,
Worked up to it through toil and strife.

Afloat fore’er before his eyes,
It colored for him all his skies:

The storm-cloud dark
Above his bark,

The calm and listless vault of blue
Took on its hopeful hue,

Continue reading “He Had His Dream” by Paul Laurance Dunbar