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Paul Laurence Dunbar… Maya Angelou’s Influence & Inspiration!

(originally posted April 2012…edited / updated May 2014)

My mom would read Paul Laurence Dunbar poems to me often when I was about 5 Years-Old (and probably earlier but I can’t remember)…among all the poems she read to me from him…”In The Morning” was the funniest and most ingenious (to me).

My Mom probably didn’t know it, but reading this to me gave me early insight into what I would call “Sarcastic Reality”… My Mom would read it in perfect “dialect”(with respect to how it was written) …which in a strange way made me proud of my culture… the dialect to me was “OURS” and it was BEAUTIFUL to me.   The irony is that you HAD TO BE ABLE TO READ WELL to pull it off..isn’t that weird?

The fact that Paul Laurence Dunbar was able to write in so-called “Southern Negro Dialect” form was a Gift and IS a long lost art. Well here it is:  (Paul Laurence Dunbar was a literary genius…and my Mom is The Best Mom Ever!


(Scroll Down for the Video Version of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Original Poem – “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”) 

In The Morning:

‘LIAS! ‘Lias! Bless de Lawd! Don’ you know de day’s erbroad?
Ef you don’ git up, you scamp,
Dey’ll be trouble in dis camp.
Tink I gwine to let you sleep
W’ile I meks yo’ boa’d an’ keep?
Dat’s a putty howdy-do-
Don’ you hyeah me, ‘Lias -you?
Bet ef I come crost dis flo’
You won’ fin’ no time to sno’
Daylight all a-shinin’ in W’ile you sleep -w’y hit’s a sin!
Aint de can’le-light enough To bu’n out widout a snuff,
But you go de mo’nin’ thoo Bu’nin’ up de daylight too?
‘Lias, don’ you hyeah me call?
No use tu’nin’ to’ds de wall;
I kin hyeah dat mattuss squeak;
Don’ you hyeah me w’en I speak?
Dis hyeah clock done struck off six-
Ca’line, bring me dem ah sticks!
Oh, you down, suh; huh, you down-
Look hyeah, don’ you daih to frown.
Ma’ch yo’se’f an wash yo’ face,
Don’ you splattah all de place;
I got somep’n else to do, ‘Sides jes’ cleanin’ aftah you.
Tek dat comb an’ fix yo’ haid!- Looks jes’ lak a feddah baid.
Look hyeah, boy, I let you see
You sha’ n’t roll yo’ eyes at me.
Come hyeah; bring me dat ah strap!
Boy, I’ll whup you ‘twell you drap;
You done felt yo’se’f too strong, An’ you sholy got me wrong.
Set down at dat table thaih; Jes’ you whimpah ef you daih!
Evah mo’nin’ on dis place, Seem lak I mus’ lose my grace.
Fol’ yo’ han’s an’ bow yo’ haid- Wait ontwell de blessin’ ‘s said; ‘
Lawd, have mussy on ouah souls-‘ (Don’ you daih to tech dem rolls-)
‘Bless de food we gwine to eat-‘ (You set still -I see yo’ feet;
You jes’ try dat trick agin!) ‘Gin us peace an’ joy. Amen!’

Paul Laurence Dunbar

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by Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Other poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

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More Paul Laurence Dunbar Poems Here

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