Paul Laurence Dunbar

(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

The Lapse Poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar


This poem must be done to-day;
Then, I 'll e'en to it.
I must not dream my time away,--
I 'm sure to rue it.
The day is rather bright, I know
The Muse will pardon
My half-defection, if I go
Into the garden.
It must be better working there,--
I 'm sure it's sweeter:
And something in the balmy air
May clear my metre.
Ah this is noble, what a sky!
What breezes blowing!
The very clouds, I know not why,
Call one to rowing.
The stream will be a paradise
To-day, I 'll warrant.
I know the tide that's on the rise
Will seem a torrent;
I know just how the leafy boughs
Are all a-quiver;
I know how many skiffs and scows
Are on the river.
I think I 'll just go out awhile
Before I write it;
When Nature shows us such a smile,
We should n't slight it.
For Nature always makes desire
By giving pleasure;
And so 't will help me put more fire
Into my measure.
The river's fine, I 'm glad I came,
That poem 's teasing;
But health is better far than fame,
Though cheques are pleasing.
I don't know what I did it for,--
This air 's a poppy.
I 'm sorry for my editor,--
He 'll get no copy!

Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010

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