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Berea College Special Collections and Archives

Lyrics of Love and Laughter


Lyrics of Love and Laughter is a collection of 102 poems, some newly-written, others published in previous volumes. This work includes a mixture of both dialect and standard literary English selections. Dunbar saw both styles as important to his career. While some have criticized Dunbar for perpetuating stereotypes through dialect writings, others view these works as an attempt to foster a distinct black aesthetic. 

To access a 1908 printing of Lyrics of Love and Laughter in the Special Collections and Archives reading room, request Curio 821 D889LyL.

An online version is available through this Google Books link.

From Lyrics of Love and Laughter


Tuskegee, Ala., April 22, 1901

Not to the midnight of the gloomy past,
Do we revert to-day; we look upon
The golden present and the future vast
Whose vistas show us visions of the dawn.

Nor shall the sorrows of departed years
The sweetness of our tranquil souls annoy,
The sunshine of our hopes dispels the tears,
And clears our eyes to see this later joy.

Not ever in the years that God hath given
Have we gone friendless down the thorny way,
Always the clouds of pregnant black were riven
By flashes from His own eternal day.

The women of a race should be its pride;
We glory in the strength our mothers had,
We glory that this strength was not denied
To labor bravely, nobly, and be glad.

God give to these within this temple here,
Clear vision of the dignity of toil,
That virtue in them may its blossoms rear
Unspotted, fragrant, from the lowly soil.

God bless the givers for their noble deed,
Shine on them with the mercy of Thy face,
Who come with open hearts to help and speed
The striving women of a struggling race.

Paul Laurence Dunbar. Public Domain.