Saturday, February 09, 2008

Paul Laurence Dunbar


Paul Lawrence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 - Feb. 9, 1906) was the first poet to use Black dialect in his verse. Dunbar also has the distinction of being the first American poet and novelist of African descent to attain international recognition. Here is an example of Paul Laurence Dunbar's poetry in dialect:



A 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.


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Photo source: washingtonart.com
Suggested Reading: Braxton, Joanne M., Ed. The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar. (University Press of Virginia, 1993.)

8 comments:

NinaMM said...

My mother, a Dunbar High alumna, taught me to read and recite in dialect to the poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Reading him takes me back to innocent times...blowing dandelions on a cool, spring day.

Rethabile said...

Thank you, bro. I know little of Mr Dunbar's poetry. I need to change that.

Stephen Bess said...

Ninamm-
Lovely. I don't remember when my love for Dunbar began, but it's not in recent memory. Thanks for that comment.

Rethabile-
I've memorized some of his poetry. I've been a fan for some time. He was a troubled man, but a great poet.

cero said...

Cool. Used it in class, in counterpoint to Cuban Nicolas Guillen:

SI TU SUPIERA...

¡Ay, negra
si tú supiera!
Anoche te bi pasá
y no quise que me biera.
A é tú le hará como a mí,
que cuando no tube plata
te corrite de bachata,
sin acoddadte de mí.
Sóngoro cosongo,
sogo be;
sóngoro cosongo
de mamey;
sóngoro, la negra
baila bien;
sóngoro de uno
sóngoro de tre.
Aé,
bengan a be;
aé,
bamo pa be;
bengan, sóngoro cosongo,
sóngoro cosongo de mamey!

Writer and Artist on Board said...

Love Dunbar! Yes. Perfect for V Day. Don't forget the chocolates, Stephen!

Stephen Bess said...

Cero-
I'm sure that it was interesting. I wish I could've been there.

A.E.-
Thanks for the reminder. :)

BronzeBuckaroo said...

Very nice. I am reading it and also thinking about Dubar's wife who was interesting woman in so many respects.

Stephen Bess said...

Bronze-
Yes, Mrs. Dunbar was talented, smart, and lovely. The relationship was a mismatch because Alice preferred the softer side of living. She loved the ladies.

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