Paul Laurence Dunbar

Poetry Index

Just Whistle A Bit

Just whistle a bit, if the day be dark,
And the sky be overcast:
If mute be the voice of the piping lark,
Why, pipe your own small blast.

And it's wonderful how o'er the gray sky-track
The truant warbler comes stealing back.
But why need he come? for your soul's at rest,
And the song in the heart,--ah, that is best.

Just whistle a bit, if the night be drear
And the stars refuse to shine:
And a gleam that mocks the starlight clear
Within you glows benign.

Till the dearth of light in the glooming skies
Is lost to the sight of your soul-lit eyes.
What matters the absence of moon or star?
The light within is the best by far.

Just whistle a bit, if there's work to do,
With the mind or in the soil.
And your note will turn out a talisman true
To exorcise grim Toil.

It will lighten your burden and make you feel
That there's nothing like work as a sauce for a meal.
And with song in your heart and the meal in--its place,
There'll be joy in your bosom and light in your face.

Just whistle a bit, if your heart be sore;
'T is a wonderful balm for pain.
Just pipe some old melody o'er and o'er
Till it soothes like summer rain.

And perhaps 't would be best in a later day,
When Death comes stalking down the way,
To knock at your bosom and see if you're fit,
Then, as you wait calmly, just whistle a bit.

This poem appears in the following book(s):

Lyrics of the Hearthside

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