Thoughtful Thursday: Valentine’s Day Edition with Paul Laurence Dunbar

//Thoughtful Thursday: Valentine’s Day Edition with Paul Laurence Dunbar

Thoughtful Thursday: Valentine’s Day Edition with Paul Laurence Dunbar

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today’s Thoughtful Thursday celebrates this day of love and romance with three love poems from one of America’s first great Black poets, Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906). 

Dunbar was known for writing poetry in both standard English and dialectic verse, and there are examples of both in the love songs presented below. While his use of dialect was preferred by his white readers, he preferred writing poems using literary English.  Viewing both gives us an understanding of the dialect of many Black people in that era as well as the frustration of an artist being pressured to present himself in a stereotypical manner which belied his broader talent. 

Share these poems with your loved ones and enjoy.  

 

Song

My heart to thy heart,
My hand to thine;
My lip to thy lips,
Kisses are wine
Brewed for the lover in sunshine and shade;
Let me drink deep, then, my African maid.
Lily to lily,

Rose unto rose;
My love to thy love
Tenderly grows.
Rend not the oak and the ivy in twain,
Nor the swart maid from her swarthier swain.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Negro Love Song

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.
Paul Laurence Dunbar

 

Song

A bee that was searching for sweets one day
Through the gate of a rose garden happened to stray.
In the heart of a rose he hid away,
And forgot in his bliss the light of day,
As sipping his honey he buzzed in song;
Though day was waning, he lingered long,
For the rose was sweet, so sweet.

A robin sits pluming his ruddy breast,
And a madrigal sings to his love in her nest:
“Oh, the skies they are blue, the fields are green,
And the birds in your nest will soon be seen!”
She hangs on his words with a thrill of love,
And chirps to him as he sits above
For the song is sweet, so sweet.

A maiden was out on a summer’s day
With the winds and the waves and the flowers at play;
And she met with a youth of gentle air,
With the light of the sunshine on his hair,
Together they wandered the flowers among;
They loved, and loving they lingered long,
For to love is sweet, so sweet.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

By |2019-02-14T16:39:59+00:00February 14th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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