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Paperback The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar Book

ISBN: 0813914388

ISBN13: 9780813914381

The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Book Overview

This new "most complete" edition of the collected poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar, the virtual father of black American poetry, includes sixty poems not included in the previous-and now out of... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Wonderful

I have looked for this book of poems for a long time. I am so happy I found this one.

For Singing Caged Birds (of any color)......

Gifted but impeded by societal racial prejudice, yet clinging to a future hope -- this is what enters into the dual voice of Paul Laurence Dunbar, a most underesteemed poet and "America's first professional black literary man." In this largest collection of Dunbar poetry (60 more poems than the "complete" collection), the editor first recounts Dunbar's bio: born to former slaves, raised by his mother, once desired to study law at Harvard, but resigned to menial jobs before being hired by the elderly Frederick Douglass, marrying, being misapprehended by critics, separating, contracting tuberculosis, turning to the bottle and dying in 1906 at age 33. Then Braxton's 28-page intro, despite a quick acknowledgment that Dunbar's poetry "transcends race and locality," dwells on Dunbar as African-American poet whose verse needs to be reclaimed. Yet Dunbar was so much more than a black writer and a misunderstood poet who endured struggles; he was a believer in Jesus Christ who therefore looked forward with optimism, and shared a universal message inspirational for Christians of any color. The editor focuses instead on Dunbar's race-related controversy that centers on the question of black voice. Dunbar wrote plantation dialect poems as well as traditional, standard English verse, and received catch-22 criticism for both, being accused of perpetuating stereotypes or accomadationism or ignoring black folk traditions. Personally, I just have a hard time reading dialect writing and am more interested in his other poems, which are beautiful in their understatement, faith, angst, hope, and irony. For example, Dunbar's "Sympathy," starts off seemingly chipper, but it's not what it first seems, and takes us thru pain, yet not leaving us there, turns upward and in characteristic Dunbar manner ultimately emotes a melancholy hope: "I know what the caged bird feels, alas! When the sun is bright on the upland slopes..." ... "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,... ... I know why the caged bird sings!" What Christian of any color can't appreciate that message? (Other personal favorites--"Slow Through The Dark," "Resignation," "When All Is Done," "Distinction," "A Prayer")

A Literary Masterpiece!!

While reading these stories I'm reminded of former slave and loyal retainer to Samuel L. Clemens (Ms. Mary Ann Cord) whose "True Story..." of her enslavement launched Mark Twain into national prominence bringing the Northeastern literary establishment to its knees for its beauty and pathos. This collection, written by the son of former slaves is equally moving and belongs to a great American 19th c. literary tradition that includes (though is not limited to) Joel Chandler Harris, George Washington Cable, Grace King, Kate Chopin and Charles W. Chesnutt. Kudos to the editors!!

"Poet Laureate of the Negro Race"

Paul Laurence Dunbar was the first great Black poet; Booker T. Washington called him the "Poet Laureate of the Negro Race". Dunbar, the son of ex-slaves, grew up in Dayton, OH, where he was friendly with the Wright Brothers. He had a successful high school career--founding editor of the school paper and elected class president of the predominantly white school--but upon graduation, he was forced to work as an elevator operator. His second book of poetry was praised by William Dean Howells and by age 24, he was one of the most renowned Black literary figures in America. Dunbar wrote in two different styles. On the one hand, he wrote straightforward classic verse that was filled with racial pride: THE COLORED SOLDIERS IF the muse were mine to tempt it And my feeble voice were strong, If my tongue were trained to measures, I would sing a stirring song. I would sing a song heroic Of those noble sons of Ham, Of the gallant colored soldiers Who fought for Uncle Sam! In the early days you scorned them, And with many a flip and flout Said "These battles are the white man's, And the whites will fight them out." Up the hills you fought and faltered, In the vales you strove and bled, While your ears still heard the thunder Of the foes' advancing tread. Then distress fell on the nation, And the flag was drooping low; Should the dust pollute your banner? No! the nation shouted, No! So when War, in savage triumph, Spread abroad his funeral pall-- Then you called the co]ored soldiers, And they answered to your call. And like hounds unleashed and eager For the life blood of the prey, Sprung they forth and bore them bravely In the thickest of the fray. And where'er the fight was hottest, Where the bullets fastest fell, There they pressed unblanched and fearless At the very mouth of hell. Ah, they rallied to the standard To uphold it by their might; None were stronger in the labors, None were braver in the fight. From the blazing breach of Wagner To the plains of Olustee, They were foremost in the fight Of the battles of the free. And at Pillow! God have mercy On the deeds committed there, An the souls of those poor victims Sent to Thee without a prayer. Let the fulness of Thy pity O'er the hot wrought spirits sway Of the gallant colored soldiers Who fell fighting on that day! Yes, the Blacks enjoy their freedom, And they won it dearly,too; For the life blood of their thousands Did the southern fields bedew. In the darkness of their bondage, In the depths of slavery's night, Their muskets flashed the dawning, And they fought their way to light They were comrades then and brothers, Are they more or less to-day? They were good to stop a bullet And to front the fearful fray.

A Poet for All Times

One of America's most prolific poets, Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote at a time when there were few African-Americans being published and praised by many of the literary elite. This volume contains the poets's most respected works. Dunbar wrote in a variety of styles, but is most remembered for the use of "slave dialect" to express the humor, the pathos, and hardships of the condition of the black man in America. Highlights include "When Malindy Sings," an entertaining opus to a "sistah" with "nat'chel" singing "o'gans," "An Ante-Bellum sermon," which features a subtle commentary on slavery, and "The Colored Soldiers," a haunting piece that delves into the inequalities of servitude in the United States armed forces. The words, though a century old are just as timeless today as they were when they were originally written. For me To cite just three in this work of so many excellent verses is a gross understatement. All the "treasures" here should be read and re-read to fully appreciate the gifted mind of this literary master.The nation and the world should be grateful to these important social commentaries of verse by one Paul Laurence Dunbar. I know that I, as an American, am enternally appreciative.
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