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    Paul Laurence Dunbar Autograph Manuscript Signed. One page, 4.8" x 7.75", n.p.; [circa 1898-1899]. Dunbar has handwritten the verses of his poem entitled "Hymn," which was written in dialect and first published in Lyrics of the Hearthside (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1899).

    Oh li'l lamb out in de col'
    De Mas'tah call you to de fol'
    Oh li'l lamb
    He hyeah you bleatin' on de hill,
    Come hyeah an' keep yo'mou'nin still
    Oh li'l lamb.
    De Mas'tah sen'de Shepud fo'f
    He wandah souf, he wandah no'f,
    Of li'l lamb.
    He wandah eas', he wandah wes'
    De win' a-wrenchin' at his breas'
    Oh li'l lamb.
    Oh tell de Shepud whaih you hide
    He want you walkin' by side
    Oh li'l lamb.
    He know you weak, he know you so',
    But come, don't stay away no mo',
    Oh li'l lamb.
    An' afah while de lamb he hyeah
    De Shepud's voice a-callin' cleah
    Sweet li'l lamb.
    He answah f'om de brambles thick
    'Oh Shepud, I's a comin' quick'
    Oh li'l lamb.

    Paul Laurence Dunbar

    Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) was one of the first African-American poets to gain national recognition. Dunbar's parents were freed slaves from Kentucky and he would draw on their stories of plantation life throughout his writing career. By the age of fourteen, Dunbar had poems published in the Dayton Herald. While in high school he edited the Dayton Tattler, a short-lived black newspaper published by classmate Orville Wright. Unable to afford college, Dunbar worked for a while as an elevator operator while he continued to writing poetry. In 1893, Dunbar self-published a collection called Oak and Ivy. To help pay the publishing costs, he sold the book for a dollar to people riding in his elevator.

    Condition: The document has two horizontal folds and several small pin holes, but otherwise is in good condition.

    More Information:

    Referred to by Frederick Douglass as "the most promising young colored man in America," by 1895 Dunbar's poetry was being published in national newspapers and magazines, such as the New York Times. That same year his second collection of poems, Majors and Minors, was published. His poems in this book were written in standard English (called "majors") and in dialect (called "minors"). Although the "major" poems outnumbered those written in dialect, it was the dialect poems that brought Dunbar the most attention. Soon gaining international acclaim, Dunbar embarked on a six-month reading tour of England in 1897. When he returned to the United States, he received a clerkship at the Library of Congress. While living in Washington, D.C., Dunbar published a collection of short stories entitled Folks from Dixie (1898), a novel The Uncalled (1898) and two additional collections of poems, Lyrics of the Hearthside (1899) and Poems of Cabin and Field (1899). He left his position at the Library of Congress in December 1898 to spend his full time writing and giving readings. Over the next five years, he published three more novels and three short story collections. Between 1902 and his death in 1906 at the age of 33 as a result of tuberculosis, Dunbar produced three additional collections of poems, Lyrics of Love and Laughter (1903), Howdy, Howdy, Howdy (1905), and Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow (1903), which cemented his reputation as America's premier African-American poet.

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    October, 2017
    19th Thursday
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