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Community Advocacy Organization

A Look in The Mirror - Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 - 1906) Poet

Updated: Feb 6, 2023


Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Dayton, OH to Matilda and Joshua Dunbar who were both slaves. He is known as one of the first African Americans to gain national prominence as a poet. Dunbar was prolific during his relatively short career. He published a dozen books of poetry, four books of short stories, four novels, lyrics for a musical, and a play.


A brief example of Dunbar's work below, is extracted from his poem titled "Dreams":


What dreams we have and how they fly

Like rosy clouds across the sky;

Of wealth, of fame, of sure success,

Of love that comes to cheer and bless;

And how they wither, how they fade,

The waning wealth, the jilting jade —

The fame that for a moment gleams,

Then flies forever, — dreams, ah — dreams!


Dunbar passed in February 1906 from complications with Tuberculosis. He was 33.

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