Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Lyrics of Lowly Life (1896)

Lyrics of Lowly Life

With an introduction by W.D. Howells

First published by Dodd, Mead and Company

Copyright 1895 and 1896

The Lesson

My cot was down by a cypress grove,
And I sat by my window the whole night long,
And heard well up from the deep dark wood
A mocking bird's passionate song.

And I thought of myself so sad and lone,
And my ]ife's cold winter that knew no spring;
Of my mind so weary and sick and wild,
Of my heart too sad to sing.

But e'en as I listened the mock-bird's song,
A thought stole into my saddened heart,
And I said, "I can cheer some other soul
By a carol's simple art."

For oft from the darkness of hearts and lives
Come songs that brim with joy and light,
As out of the gloom of the cypress grove
The mocking-bird sings at night.

So I sang a lay for a brother's ear
In a strain to soothe his bleeding heart,
And he smiled at the sound of my voice and lyre,
Tho' mine was a feeble art.

But at his smile, I smiled in turn
And into my soul there came a ray:
In trying to soothe another's woes
Mine own had passed away.

This poem appears in the following book(s):

Lyrics of Lowly Life, Majors and Minors

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