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  • Slide 1
  • Presentation by Katelyn Jipson Biography List of Works List of Works Sample Poems Sample Poems Inspired Poems Inspired Poems Original Poems Original Poems Bibliography
  • Slide 2
  • One Man Against the Majority "Paul Laurence Dunbar stands out as the first poet from the Negro race in the United States to show a combined mastery over poetic material and poetic technique, to reveal innate literary distinction in what he wrote, and to maintain a high level of performance. He was the first to rise to a height from which he could take a perspective view of his own race. He was the first to see objectively its humor, its superstitions, its short-comings; the first to feel sympathetically its heart-wounds, its yearnings, its aspirations, and to voice them all in a purely literary form" (Paul Laurence Dunbar 3). These are the words of James Weldon Johnson, a friend who recognized Dunbar as being the most important African American poet of his time. Paul Laurence Dunbar is the son Joshua Dunbar, who was a former slave, Union soldier, and plasterer, and Matilda Glass Murphy, who was a former slave and laundress (Paul Laurence Dunbar 1). He was born in Dayton, Ohio on June 27, 1872 and died on February 9, 1906 at the age of thirty-three of tuberculosis (Revell 2, 9). His mother passed on her love for literature to Dunbar and taught him how to read. Both of his parents, though, would tell him stories about being slaves that would eventually be inspiration to much of his literary works (Revell 2). Dunbars childhood in Dayton was rather peaceful and fulfilling, and he grew up practically untouched by racism until after high school (Revell 2). He was elected president of the Philomathean Literary Society at his high school, and by his junior year of high school in 1889, he had already had published poems in the Dayton Herald (Paul Laurence Dunbar 3). One of Dunbar's former teachers invited Dunbar to the Western Association of Writers in 1892, where he met a man named James Newton Mathews, who eventually played a major role in the publication of Dunbar's first published work of poetry (Paul Laurence Dunbar 3). Biography List of Works List of Works Sample Poems Sample Poems Inspired Poems Inspired Poems Original Poems Original Poems Bibliography
  • Slide 3
  • Dunbar always loved writing throughout his childhood and adolescent years, but as he got older, money and the fact that he was a black writer were the primary issues for him in actually publishing his works ("The Life of Paul Laurence Dunbar"). Dunbar published his first book of a collection of poems, entitled Oak and Ivy in 1892, but he received only a modest sum for the book. He had to continue with his job as an elevator operator to pay off debts to his publisher, and he would often sell his book for one dollar to passengers on the elevator he controlled ("The Life of Paul Laurence Dunbar"). Dunbar didn't have any additional schooling after high school because of limited money resources, so he had to work as an elevator boy while still constantly writing poems, short stories and novels (Paul Laurence Dunbar 4). Though, in 1899, he was given an honorary M.A. degree by Atlanta University (Revell 6). He often passed time reading poetry again and again by his favorite poets - William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, John Keats, and his all-time favorite, James Whitcomb Riley. Rileys humor and dialect were rather influential to some of his later works of poetry ( Paul Laurence Dunbar 3). After publishing Oak and Ivy, he also published a couple more collections of poetry, such as: Majors and Minors and Lyrics of a Lowly Life, which established Dunbar as America's foremost black poet (Paul Laurence Dunbar 5). Biography List of Works List of Works Sample Poems Sample Poems Inspired Poems Inspired Poems Original Poems Original Poems Bibliography
  • Slide 4
  • The main theme of Dunbar's poetry and literary work is to express the life and soul of the people of his race (Revell 4). He discussed topics such as the depressing plight of blacks in American society in one of his most popular poems, "Sympathy" (Revell 3). In his books of collections of poetry, he sometimes used a dialect verse that was known as "Negro dialect". He became well-known for his dialect verse, and both black and white audiences alike took pleasure in reading his works of literature (Revell 3). Dunbar is very important to the world of literature because he took a huge step towards black and white equality in poetry. He let the people of America witness the lives of black citizens through his words, and they listened, making him the most important black poet in American literature (Paul Laurence Dunbar 6). Dunbar received a great deal of criticism and unfairness while trying to get jobs and publish his works because of his race, but later on the same factor made him famous. His powerful words about the feelings and experiences a black person went through every day during his lifetime shed light upon the subject, and he wasn't just another black man walking the streets complaining about his life ("The Life of Paul Laurence Dunbar"). He stood up and demanded attention be brought to an issue he knew wasn't right, and for that he will forever be remembered as the man who changed the lives of black poets forever. Biography List of Works List of Works Sample Poems Sample Poems Inspired Poems Inspired Poems Original Poems Original Poems Bibliography
  • Slide 5
  • We Wear the Mask Sympathy Life's Tragedy Encouragement A Choice A Negro Love Song A Golden Day Little Brown Baby Confirmation Morning Ships that Pass in the Night The Paradox My Little March Girl If I Could But Forget Frederick Douglass Common Things Encouraged The Debt Accountability The Unlucky Apple The Haunted Oak Summer in the South To Dan Old The Made to Order Smile Signs of the Times Merry Autumn The Lawyers' Ways Distinction Song Howdy, Honey, Howdy Theology At the Tavern The Barrier The Old Front Gate When All is Done More Poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar More Poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar Biography List of Works List of Works Sample Poems Sample Poems Inspired Poems Inspired Poems Original Poems Original Poems Bibliography
  • Slide 6
  • Life By Paul Laurence Dunbar A CRUST of bread and a corner to sleep in, A minute to smile and an hour to weep in, A pint of joy to a peck of trouble, And never a laugh but the moans come double; And that is life! A crust and a corner that love makes precious, With a smile to warm and the tears to refresh us; And joy seems sweeter when cares come after, And a moan is the finest of foils for laughter; And that is life! Analysis of Life Biography List of Works List of Works Sample Poems Sample Poems Inspired Poems Inspired Poems Original Poems Original Poems Bibliography
  • Slide 7
  • Analysis of Life by Paul Laurence Dunbar The poem, Life, by Paul Laurence Dunbar uses the literary element of hyperbole in an interesting way. This poem explains how life can seem very unfair at times with more hardships than happiness, but if you look at life with an optimistic view, even the most seemingly unfortunate events can be turned around for the better. There is a line in this poem that reads, A minute to smile and an hour to weep in/ a pint of joy to a peck of trouble. This line is representing the bad in life that most people tend to focus on. Another line later on in the poem, though, reads, With a smile to warm and the tears to refresh us/ and joy seems sweeter when cares come after. This line represents that not every unhappy period in life is what it seems, for sometimes if you look at the situation in another way or focus on the good, it will seem a lot better. The first lines mentioned represent the literary element of hyperbole by exaggerating the truth for emphasis. Truthfully, life does not only contain a minute of happiness to every hour of sadness, but Dunbar uses an hyperbole here to create emphasis on the contrast with the second stanza of the poem in which he explains how lifes hardships can bring contentment later on. This hyperbole impacts the poem as a whole by allowing people to develop a sense of hopefulness and faith that their lives, too, will turn around someday no matter how unpromising it seems at the time. Dunbars use of hyperbole in his poem, Life, creates encouragement for the people that feel life is never going to look up by showing people that even the worst situations in life can be optimistically turned around in the end. Biography List of Works List of Works Sample Poems Sample Poems Inspired Poems Inspired Poems Original Poems Original Poems Bibliography
  • Slide 8
  • "A Poem of Faith" by Paul Laurence Dunbar is about waiting for the good times to come in times of misfortune. Dunbar is saying that although your life doesn't look like it's going too well at the moment, you shouldn't let sorrow overtake you but wait for the good times to come. I really like this poem because it reminded me that even when I'm having the worst of days I should keep my head high or it will get worse. I especially like the line where Dunbar says, "Smile at old Fortune's adverse tide/ smile when the scoffers sneer and chide", because it takes a very strong person to cast off hurtful words of others. A Poem of Faith By Paul Laurence Dunbar I think that though the clouds be dark, That though the waves dash o'er the bark, Yet after while the light will come, And in calm waters safe at home The bark will anchor. Weep not, my sad-eyed, gray-robed maid, Because your fairest blossoms fade, That sorrow still o'erruns your cup, And even though you root them up, The weeds grow ranker. For after while your tears shall cease, And sorrow shall give way to peace; The flowers shall bloom, the weeds

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