Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar was a true American son. He was born in 1872. He was the son of freed Kentucky slaves. He became a published poet at fourteen. His first book was, Oak and Ivy. He sold it to riders on his elevator as they rode with them.


He moved to Chicago and became friends with Frederick Douglas. He was an internationally recognized poet.


“Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing;

I look far out into the pregnant night,

Where I can hear a soleman booming gun

And catch the gleaming of a random light,

That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing.


My tearful eyes my soul’s deep hurt are glassing;

For I would hail and check that ship of ships.

I stretch my hands imploring, cry aloud,

My voice falls dead a foot from mine own lips,

And but its ghost doth reach that vessel, passing, passing


O Earth, O Sky, O Ocean, both surpassing,

O heart of mine, O soul that dreads the dark!

Is there no hope for me? Is there no way

That I may sight and check that speeding bark

Which out of sight and sound is passing, passing?


—Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ships That Pass in the Night



Justice will bring peace

Justice will bring peace

9 thoughts on “Paul Laurence Dunbar

  1. petchary says:

    Reblogged this on Petchary's Blog and commented:
    Many of us may not have heard of this beautiful poet, a contemporary of Frederick Douglass. It has been a hard night in Baltimore, but we hope, as my friend and fellow blogger Barbara says, that justice will bring peace. Goodnight, all. May tomorrow be a brighter dawn.

  2. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

    Peace? I doubt if white people have learned their lesson just yet. There is always hope for tomorrow.

    • Always hope Jackie. The more we talk, act and are strong, the sooner we can heal the marginalized in America. By the way, when I go to your blog, it tells me you removed it. Is that true? I don’t what to miss your posts. Hugs, Barbara

      • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

        No, my blog is still there:

        Thanks for letting me know! Hugs back, Barbara! ❤

  3. Ms. Vee says:

    I love this poem. Very beautiful. Pray for peace!

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