Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 – February 9, 1906) was an American poet and writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dunbar gained national recognition for his 1896 book of poems, Lyrics of a Lowly Life.
- It is a little dark still, but there are warnings of the day and somewhere out of the darkness a bird is singing to the Dawn.
- Because you love me I have much achieved,
Had you despised me then I must have failed,
But since I knew you trusted and believed,
I could not disappoint you and so prevailed.
- Encouraged, in the 1913 collection of his work, The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar.
- You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.
- Invitation to Love, in the 1913 collection of his work, The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar.
- I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind blows soft through the springing grass,
And the river floats like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting—
I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!
- 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 over-wise,
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!
- We Wear The Mask, in the 1913 collection of his work, The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar.