Wednesday, May 27, 2009

for paul lawrence dunbar

for paul lawrence dunbar

he sang of life, serenely sweet,
with, now & then, a deeper note…
from “the poet.”

u loved language & loved to prettily use it.
made it graciously grow & expressively
expand, mimetically mark & stylistically
stretch the relations of things. yr caged
poetic soul, wingbruised & bosomsore,
malindy sang yr figures black & bucolic or
lyrically romantic with fresh new meaning.
u not only found the real melojus music in
the euphony but made it rant or sweetly ring
from kitchen to the big woods, salon to concert
hall & from one elevated plane of consciousness
to another. how sad that even admiring ears heard
u with selective audition; heaped u with damning
acclaim. how sad again their stereotyping eyes
saw minstrelry before profound poetic diction
& myopically missed a real lyrical dancer.
perhaps they right righteously sensed the
throbbing threat in yr proud swarthy verses
standing tall among the fleecy clouds in fame’s
sky. How sad the more when tubercular cough
& alcohol fastfowarded yr end of days at
thirty-three. would that u lived to see all of yr
work extolled, signified upon, raised above a
dead racist textual to a living black aesthetic.
would that u could turn in yr grave to hide
yr posthumous smile.

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