AMERICAN POETRY: Paul Laurence Dunbar (b. 1872, d. 1906)


Paul Laurence Dunbar was the first African-American to gain national eminence as a poet. He was the son of ex-slaves.

His style encompasses two distinct voices - the standard English of the classical poet and the evocative dialect of the turn-of-the-century black community in America.

I would like to share with you his poem...

The Phantom Kiss

One night in my room, still and beamless,
With will and with thought in eclipse,
I rested in sleep that was dreamless;
When softly there fell on my lips

A touch, as of lips that were pressing
Mine own with the message of bliss—
A sudden, soft, fleeting caressing,
A breath like a maiden's first kiss.

I woke-and the scoffer may doubt me—
I peered in surprise through the gloom;
But nothing and none were about me,
And I was alone in my room.

Perhaps 't was the wind that caressed me
And touched me with dew-laden breath;
Or, maybe, close-sweeping, there passed me
The low-winging Angel of Death.

Some sceptic may choose to disdain it,
Or one feign to read it aright;
Or wisdom may seek to explain it—
This mystical kiss in the night.

But rather let fancy thus clear it:
That, thinking of me here alone,
The miles were made naught, and, in spirit,
Thy lips, love, were laid on mine own.

Source... The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Link(s)...

http://www.libraries.wright.edu/special/dunbar/
http://www.libraries.wright.edu/special/dunbar/poetryindex/

Wiki(s)...

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:Paul_Laurence_Dunbar

Thanks, B., for calling attention to Dunbar.
--
Wolfgang

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