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

Melancholia

Silently without my window,
Tapping gently at the pane,
Falls the rain.
Through the trees sighs the breeze
Like a soul in pain.
Here alone I sit and weep;
Thought hath banished sleep.

Wearily I sit and listen
To the water's ceaseless drip.
To my lip
Fate turns up the bitter cup,
Forcing me to sip;
'Tis a bitter, bitter drink.
Thus I sit and think,--

Thinking things unknown and awful,
Thoughts on wild, uncanny themes,
Waking dreams.
Spectres dark, corpses stark,
Show the gaping seams
Whence the cold and cruel knife
Stole away their life.

Bloodshot eyes all strained and staring,
Gazing ghastly into mine;
Blood like wine
On the brow--clotted now--
Shows death's dreadful sign.
Lonely vigil still I keep;
Would that I might sleep!

Still, oh, still, my brain is whirling!
Still runs on my stream of thought;
I am caught
In the net fate hath set.
Mind and soul are brought
To destruction's very brink;
Yet I can but think!

Eyes that look into the future,--
Peeping forth from out my mind,
They will find
Some new weight, soon or late,
On my soul to bind,
Crushing all its courage out,--
Heavier than doubt.

Dawn, the Eastern monarch's daughter,
Rising from her dewy bed,
Lays her head
'Gainst the clouds' sombre shrouds
Now half fringed with red.
O'er the land she 'gins to peep;
Come, O gentle Sleep!

Hark! the morning cock is crowing;
Dreams, like ghosts, must hie away;
'Tis the day.
Rosy morn now is born;
Dark thoughts may not stay.
Day my brain from foes will keep;
Now, my soul, I sleep.

This poem appears in the following book(s):

Lyrics of Lowly Life, Oak and Ivy

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