Paul Laurence Dunbar Poems

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Be encouraged and inspired by these poems written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Many of these poems were written in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Mr. Dunbar was an American poet and short story writer born on June 27, 1872, in Dayton, Ohio, USA. He died on February 9, 1906 however, his poems live on today.

Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar



Popular Short  Famous Poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar:

  1. When Storms Arise
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    When storms arise
    And dark’ning skies
    About me threat’ning lower,
    To thee, O Lord, I raise mine eyes,
    To thee my tortured spirit flies
    For solace in that hour.

    The mighty arm
    Will let no harm
    Come near me nor befall me;
    Thy voice shall quiet my alarm,
    When life’s great battle waxeth warm -
    No foeman shall appall me.

    Upon thy breast
    Secure I rest,
    From sorrow and vexation;
    No more by sinful cares oppressed,
    But in thy presence ever blest,
    O God of my salvation.


  2. Christian Poems
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  3. Keep A-Plugging Away
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    I‘ve a humble little motto
    That is homely, though it’s true,
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.
    It’s a thing when I‘ve an object
    That I always try to do,
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.
    When you‘ve rising storms to quell,
    When opposing waters swell,
    It will never fail to tell,
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.

    If the hills are high before
    And the paths are hard to climb,
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.
    And remember that successes
    Come to him who bides his time,
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.
    From the greatest to the least,
    None are from the rule released.
    Be thou toiler, poet, priest,
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.

    Delve away beneath the surface,
    There is treasure farther down,
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.
    Let the rain come down in torrents,
    Let the threatening heavens frown,
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.
    When the clouds have rolled away,
    There will come a brighter day
    All your labor to repay,-
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.

    There‘ll be lots of sneers to swallow,
    There‘ll be lots of pain to bear,-
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.
    If you‘ve got your eye on heaven,
    Some bright day you‘ll wake up there,
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.
    Perseverance still is king;
    Time its sure reward will bring;
    Work and wait unwearying,-
    Keep a–pluggin’ away.


  4. Poems Of Encouragement
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  5. Life
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in,
    A minute to smile and an hour to weep in,
    A pint of joy to a peck of trouble,
    And never a laugh but the moans come double;

    And that is life!
    A crust and a corner that love makes precious,
    With a smile to warm and the tears to refresh us;
    And joy seems sweeter when cares come after,
    And a moan is the finest of foils for laughter;

    And that is life!


  6. Poems About Life
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  7. What's The Use
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    What’s the use o’ folks a–frownin’
    When the way’s a little rough?
    Frowns lay out the road fur smilin’
    You’ll be wrinkled soon enough.

    What’s the use?
    What’s the use o’ folks a–sighin’?
    It’s an awful waste o’ breath,
    An’ a body can’t stand wastin’
    What he needs so bad in death.

    What’s the use?
    What’s the use o’ even weepin’?
    Might as well go long an’ smile.
    Life, our longest, strongest arrow,
    Only lasts a little while.

    What’s the use?


  8. Inspirational Poems
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  9. Promise
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    I grew a rose within a garden fair,
    And, tending it with more than loving care,
    I thought how, with the glory of its bloom,
    I should the darkness of my life illume;
    And, watching, ever smiled to see the lusty bud
    Drink freely in the summer sun to tinct its blood.

    My rose began to open, and its hue
    Was sweet to me as to it sun and dew;
    I watched it taking on its ruddy flame
    Until the day of perfect blooming came,
    Then hasted I with smiles to find it blushing red-
    Too late! Some thoughtless child had plucked my rose and fled!


  10. Garden  Poems
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  11. A Prayer
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    O Lord, the hard–won miles
    Have worn my stumbling feet:
    Oh, soothe me with thy smiles,
    And make my life complete.

    The thorns were thick and keen
    Where’er I trembling trod;
    The way was long between
    My wounded feet and God.

    Where healing waters flow
    Do thou my footsteps lead.
    My heart is aching so;
    Thy gracious balm I need.


  12. Short Prayers
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  13. A Love Song
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    Ah, love, my love is like a cry in the night,
    A long, loud cry to the empty sky,
    The cry of a man alone in the desert,
    With hands uplifted, with parching lips,

    Oh, rescue me, rescue me,
    Thy form to mine arms,
    The dew of thy lips to my mouth,
    Dost thou hear me? - my call thro’ the night?

    Darling, I hear thee and answer,
    Thy fountain am I,
    All of the love of my soul will I bring to thee,
    All of the pains of my being shall wring to thee,
    Deep and forever the song of my loving shall sing to thee,
    Ever and ever thro’ day and thro’ night shall I cling to thee.
    Hearest thou the answer?
    Darling, I come, I come.


  14. Short Love Poems
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  15. When All Is Done
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    When all is done, and my last word is said,
    And ye who loved me murmur, “He is dead,”
    Let no one weep, for fear that I should know,
    And sorrow too that ye should sorrow so.

    When all is done and in the oozing clay,
    Ye lay this cast–off hull of mine away,
    Pray not for me, for, after long despair,
    The quiet of the grave will be a prayer.

    For I have suffered loss and grievous pain,
    The hurts of hatred and the world’s disdain,
    And wounds so deep that love, well–tried and pure,
    Had not the pow’r to ease them or to cure.

    When all is done, say not my day is o’er,
    And that thro’ night I seek a dimmer shore:
    Say rather that my morn has just begun,-
    I greet the dawn and not a setting sun,

    When all is done.


  16. Funeral Poems
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  17. Inspiration
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    At the golden gate of song
    Stood I, knocking all day long,
    But the Angel, calm and cold,
    Still refused and bade me, “Hold.”

    Then a breath of soft perfume,
    Then a light within the gloom;
    Thou, Love, camest to my side,
    And the gates flew open wide.

    Long I dwelt in this domain,
    Knew no sorrow, grief, or pain;
    Now you bid me forth and free,
    Will you shut these gates on me?


  18. Heaven  Poems
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  19. The End of The Chapter
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    Ah, yes, the chapter ends to–day;
    We even lay the book away;
    But oh, how sweet the moments sped
    Before the final page was read!

    We tried to read between the lines
    The Author’s deep–concealed designs;
    But scant reward such search secures;
    You saw my heart and I saw yours.

    The Master, - He who penned the page
    And bade us read it, - He is sage:
    And what he orders, you and I
    Can but obey, nor question why.

    We read together and forgot
    The world about us. Time was not.
    Unheeded and unfelt, it fled.
    We read and hardly knew we read.

    Until beneath a sadder sun,
    We came to know the book was done.
    Then, as our minds were but new lit,
    It dawned upon us what was writ;

    And we were startled. In our eyes,
    Looked forth the light of great surprise.
    Then as a deep–toned tocsin tolls,
    A voice spoke forth: “Behold your souls!”

    I do, I do. I cannot look
    Into your eyes: so close the book.
    But brought it grief or brought it bliss,
    No other page shall read like this!


  20. Poems About Books
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  21. Morning
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    The mist has left the greening plain,
    The dew–drops shine like fairy rain,
    The coquette rose awakes again
    Her lovely self adorning.
    The Wind is hiding in the trees,
    A sighing, soothing, laughing tease,
    Until the rose says “Kiss me, please,”
    ‘Tis morning, ‘tis morning.

    With staff in hand and careless–free,
    The wanderer fares right jauntily,
    For towns and houses are, thinks he,
    For scorning, for scorning.
    My soul is swift upon the wing,
    And in its deeps a song I bring;
    Come, Love, and we together sing,
    'Tis morning, ‘tis morning.'


  22. Good Morning Poems
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  23. A Thanksgiving Poem
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    The sun hath shed its kindly light,
    Our harvesting is gladly o’er
    Our fields have felt no killing blight,
    Our bins are filled with goodly store.

    From pestilence, fire, flood, and sword
    We have been spared by thy decree,
    And now with humble hearts, O Lord,
    We come to pay our thanks to thee.

    We feel that had our merits been
    The measure of thy gifts to us,
    We erring children, born of sin,
    Might not now be rejoicing thus.

    No deed of ours hath brought us grace;
    When thou were nigh our sight was dull,
    We hid in trembling from thy face,
    But thou, O God, wert merciful.

    Thy mighty hand o’er all the land
    Hath still been open to bestow
    Those blessings which our wants demand
    From heaven, whence all blessings flow.

    Thou hast, with ever watchful eye,
    Looked down on us with holy care,
    And from thy storehouse in the sky
    Hast scattered plenty everywhere.

    Then lift we up our songs of praise
    To thee, O Father, good and kind;
    To thee we consecrate our days;
    Be thine the temple of each mind.

    With incense sweet our thanks ascend;
    Before thy works our powers pall;
    Though we should strive years without end,
    We could not thank thee for them all.


  24. Thanksgiving Poems
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  25. Christmas Carol
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    Ring out, ye bells!
    All Nature swells
    With gladness at the wondrous story,-
    The world was lorn,
    But Christ is born
    To change our sadness into glory.

    Sing, earthlings, sing!
    To–night a King
    Hath come from heaven’s high throne to bless us.
    The outstretched hand
    O’er all the land
    Is raised in pity to caress us.

    Come at his call;
    Be joyful all;
    Away with mourning and with sadness!
    The heavenly choir
    With holy fire
    Their voices raise in songs of gladness.

    The darkness breaks
    And Dawn awakes,
    Her cheeks suffused with youthful blushes.
    The rocks and stones
    In holy tones
    Are singing sweeter than the thrushes.

    Then why should we
    In silence be,
    When Nature lends her voice to praises;
    When heaven and earth
    Proclaim the truth
    Of Him for whom that lone star blazes?

    No, be not still,
    But with a will
    Strike all your harps and set them ringing;
    On hill and heath
    Let every breath
    Throw all its power into singing!


  26. Christmas Poems
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  27. October
    Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar


    October is the treasurer of the year,
    And all the months pay bounty to her store;
    The fields and orchards still their tribute bear,
    And fill her brimming coffers more and more.
    But she, with youthful lavishness,
    Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress,
    And decks herself in garments bold
    Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold.

    She heedeth not how swift the hours fly,
    But smiles and sings her happy life along;
    She only sees above a shining sky;
    She only hears the breezes’ voice in song.
    Her garments trail the woodlands through,
    And gather pearls of early dew
    That sparkle, till the roguish Sun
    Creeps up and steals them every one.

    But what cares she that jewels should be lost,
    When all of Nature’s bounteous wealth is hers?
    Though princely fortunes may have been their cost,
    Not one regret her calm demeanor stirs.
    Whole–hearted, happy, careless, free,
    She lives her life out joyously,
    Nor cares when Frost stalks o’er her way
    And turns her auburn locks to gray.


  28. October Poems
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