Paul Laurence Dunbar

(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

To The Miami


Kiss me, Miami, thou most constant one!
I love thee more for that thou changest not.
When Winter comes with frigid blast,
Or when the blithesome Spring is past
And Summer's here with sunshine hot,
Or in sere Autumn, thou has still the pow'r
To charm alike, whate'er the hour.

Kiss me, Miami, with thy dewy lips;
Throbs fast my heart e'en as thine own breast beats.
My soul doth rise as rise thy waves,
As each on each the dark shore laves
And breaks in ripples and retreats.
There is a poem in thine every phase;
Thou still has sung through all thy days.

Tell me, Miami, how it was with thee
When years ago Tecumseh in his prime
His birch boat o'er thy waters sent,
And pitched upon thy banks his tent.
In that long-gone, poetic time,
Did some bronze bard thy flowing stream sit by
And sing thy praises, e'en as I?

Did some bronze lover 'neath this dark old tree
Whisper of love unto his Indian maid?
And didst thou list his murmurs deep,
And in thy bosom safely keep
The many raging vows they said?
Or didst thou tell to fish and frog and bird
The raptured scenes that there occurred?

But, O dear stream, what volumes thou couldst tell
To all who know thy language as I do,
Of life and love and jealous hate!
But now to tattle were too late,--
Thou who hast ever been so true.
Tell not to every passing idler here
All those sweet tales that reached thine ear.

But, silent stream, speak out and tell me this:
I say that men and things are still the same;
Were men as bold to do and dare?
Were women then as true and fair?
Did poets seek celestial flame,
The hero die to gain a laureled brow,
And women suffer, then as now?

Submitted: Friday, April 02, 2010

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