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“Night of Love” by Paul Laurence Dunbar


The moon has left the sky, love,

The stars are hiding now,

And frowning on the world, love,

Night bares her sable brow.

The snow is on the ground, love,

And cold and keen the air is.

I’m singing here to you, love;

You’re dreaming there in Paris.

But this is Nature’s law, love,

Though just it may not seem,

That men should wake to sing, love;

While maidens sleep and dream.

Them care may not molest, love,

Nor stir them from their slumbers,

Though midnight find the swain, love.

Still halting o’er his numbers.

I watch the rosy dawn, love,

Come stealing up the east,

While all things round rejoice, love,

That Night her reign has ceased.

The lark will soon be heard, love,

And on his way be winging;

When Nature’s poets, wake, love,

Why should a man be singing?

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18th Century African-American American American Poetry Frances E. W. Harper

“Blessed Hope” by France E.W. Harper


Oh! crush it not, that hope so blest,

Which cheers the fainting heart,

And points it to the coming rest,

Where sorrow has no part.

Tear from my heart each worldly prop,

Unbind each earthly string,

But to this blest and glorious hope,

Oh! let my spirit cling.

It cheer’d amid the days of old,

Each holy patriarch’s breast;

It was an anchor to their souls,

Upon it let me rest.

When wandering in dens and caves,

In sheep and goat skins dress’d,

A peel’d and scatter’d people learned

To know this hope was blest.

Help me, amid this world of strife,

To long for Christ to reign,

That when He brings the crown of life,

I may that crown obtain

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“Invitation to Love” by Paul Laurence Dunbar


Come when the nights are bright with stars

Or come when the moon is mellow;

Come when the sun his golden bars

Drops on the hay-field yellow.

Come in the twilight soft and gray,

Come in the night or come in the day,

Come, O love, whene’er you may,

And you are welcome, welcome.

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,

You are soft as the nesting dove.

Come to my heart and bring it to rest

As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.

Come when my heart is full of grief

Or when my heart is merry;

Come with the falling of the leaf

Or with the redd’ning cherry.

Come when the year’s first blossom blows,

Come when the summer gleams and glows,

Come with the winter’s drifting snows,

And you are welcome, welcome.

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African-American American Black History Celebration Love Paul Laurence Dunbar

“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.

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African-American American Black History Harlem Renaissance James Weldon Johnson

“The Glory of the Day Was In Her Face” by James Weldon Johnson


The glory of the day was in her face,
The beauty of the night was in her eyes.
And over all her loveliness, the grace
Of Morning blushing in the early skies.

And in her voice, the calling of the dove;
Like music of a sweet, melodious part.
And in her smile, the breaking light of love;
And all the gentle virtues in her heart.

And now the glorious day, the beauteous night,
The birds that signal to their mates at dawn,
To my dull ears, to my tear-blinded sight
Are one with all the dead, since she is gone.

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African-American Black History Celebration Love

“A Negro Love Song” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 – 1906)


Seen my lady home las’ night,

   Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hel’ huh han’ an’ sque’z it tight,
   Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hyeahd huh sigh a little sigh,
Seen a light gleam f’om huh eye,
An’ a smile go flittin’ by —
   Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hyeahd de win’ blow thoo de pine,
   Jump back, honey, jump back.
Mockin’-bird was singin’ fine,
   Jump back, honey, jump back.
An’ my hea’t was beatin’ so,
When I reached my lady’s do’,
Dat I could n’t ba’ to go —
   Jump back, honey, jump back.
Put my ahm aroun’ huh wais’,
   Jump back, honey, jump back.
Raised huh lips an’ took a tase,
   Jump back, honey, jump back.
Love me, honey, love me true?
Love me well ez I love you?
An’ she answe’d, “‘Cose I do”—
   Jump back, honey, jump back.
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African-American American Black History

“A Mathematical Problem in Verse” by Benjamin Banneker


A COOPER and Vintner sat down for a talk,

Both being so groggy, that neither could walk,

Says Cooper to Vintner, “I’m the first of my trade,

There’s no kind of vessel, but what I have made,

And of any shpe, Sir, -just what you will,-

And of any size, Sir, -from a ton to a gill!”

“Then,” says the Vintner, “you’re the man for me,-

Make me a vessel, if we can agree.

The top and the bottom diameter define,

To bear that proportion as fifteen to nine,

Thirty-five inches are just what I crave,

No more and no less, in the depth, will I have;

Just thirty-nine gallons this vessel must hold,-

Then I will reward you with silver or gold,-

Give me your promise, my honest old friend?”

“I’ll make it tomorrow, that you may depend!”

So the next day the Cooper his work to discharge,

Soon made the new vessel, but made it too large;-

He took out some staves, which made it too small,

And then cursed the vessel, the Vintner and all.

He beat on his breast, “By the Powers!” – he swore,

He never would work at his trade any more.

Now my worthy friend, find out, if you can,

The vessel’s dimensions and comfort the man!*

* The greater diameter would be 24.7460 inches, the lesser 14.8476.

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African-American American Black History Harlem Renaissance Jean Toomer

“Georgia Dusk” by Jean Toomer (1894 – 1967)


The sky, lazily disdaining to pursue

   The setting sun, too indolent to hold
   A lengthened tournament for flashing gold,
Passively darkens for night’s barbecue,
A feast of moon and men and barking hounds,
   An orgy for some genius of the South
   With blood-hot eyes and cane-lipped scented mouth,
Surprised in making folk-songs from soul sounds.
The sawmill blows its whistle, buzz-saws stop,
   And silence breaks the bud of knoll and hill,
   Soft settling pollen where plowed lands fulfill
Their early promise of a bumper crop.
Smoke from the pyramidal sawdust pile
   Curls up, blue ghosts of trees, tarrying low
   Where only chips and stumps are left to show
The solid proof of former domicile.
Meanwhile, the men, with vestiges of pomp,
   Race memories of king and caravan,
   High-priests, an ostrich, and a juju-man,
Go singing through the footpaths of the swamp.
Their voices rise . . the pine trees are guitars,
   Strumming, pine-needles fall like sheets of rain . .
   Their voices rise . . the chorus of the cane
Is caroling a vesper to the stars . .
O singers, resinous and soft your songs
   Above the sacred whisper of the pines,
   Give virgin lips to cornfield concubines,
Bring dreams of Christ to dusky cane-lipped throngs.
Categories
African-American American Black History

“The Birth of John Henry” by Melvin B. Tolson (1898 – 1966)


The night John Henry is born an ax
            of lightning splits the sky,
and a hammer of thunder pounds the earth,
      and the eagles and panthers cry!
      John Henry—he says to his Ma and Pa:
            “Get a gallon of barleycorn.
      I want to start right, like a he-man child,
            the night that I am born!”
Says:   “I want some ham hocks, ribs, and jowls,
            a pot of cabbage and greens;
      some hoecackes, jam, and buttermilk,
            a platter of pork and beans!”
      John Henry’s Ma—she wrings her hands,
            and his Pa—he scratches his head.
      John Henry—he curses in giraffe-tall words,
            flops over, and kicks down the bed.
      He’s burning mad, like a bear on fire—
            so he tears to the riverside.
As he stoops to drink, Old Man River gets scared
            and runs upstream to hide!
    Some say he was born in Georgia—O Lord!
            Some say in Alabam.
But it’s writ on the rock at the Big Bend Tunnel:
            “Lousyana was my home.   So scram!”
Categories
African-American American Black History Dream Paul Laurence Dunbar

“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,