Lyrics of Love and Laughter
Category: Verse
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Lyrics of Love and Laughter is a collection of poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar, an American poet, novelist, and short story writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in Dayton, Ohio, to parents who had been enslaved in Kentucky before the American Civil War, Dunbar began writing stories and verse when he was a child.

Lyrics of Love and Laughter

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Lyrics of Love and Laughter

Two Little Boots

Two little boots all rough an’ wo’,
Two little boots!
Law, I ‘s kissed ‘em times befo’,
Dese little boots!
Seems de toes a-peepin’ thoo
Dis hyeah hole an’ sayin’ “Boo!”
Evah time dey looks at you —
Dese little boots.

Membah de time he put ‘em on,
          Dese little boots;
Riz an’ called fu’ ‘em by dawn,
          Dese little boots;
Den he tromped de livelong day,
Laffin’ in his happy way,
Evaht’ing he had to say,
           “My little boots!”

Kickin’ de san’ de whole day long,
         Dem little boots;
Good de cobblah made ‘em strong,
         Dem little boots!
Rocks was fu’ dat baby’s use,
I’on had to stan’ abuse
W’en you tu’ned dese champeens loose,
          Dese little boots!

Ust to make de ol’ cat cry,
Dese little boots;
Den you walked it mighty high,
Proud little boots!
Ahms akimbo, stan’in’ wide,
Eyes a-sayin’ “Dis is pride!”
Den de manny-baby stride!
You little boots.

Somehow, you don’ seem so gay,
        Po’ little boots,
Sence yo’ ownah went erway,
        Po’ little boots!
Yo’ bright tops don’ look so red,
Dese brass tips is dull an’ dead;
“Goo’-by,” whut de baby said;
          Deah little boots!

Ain’t you kin’ o’ sad yo’se’f,
You little boots?
Dis is all his mammy ‘s lef’,
Two little boots.
Sence huh baby gone an’ died.
Heav’n itse’f hit seem to hide
Des a little bit inside
Two little boots.

To the Road

Cool is the wind, for the summer is waning,
Who ‘s for the road?
Sun-flecked and soft, where the dead leaves are raining,
Who ‘s for the road?
Knapsack and alpenstock press hand and shoulder,
Prick of the brier and roll of the boulder; This be your lot till the season grow older;
Who ‘s for the road?

Up and away in the hush of the morning,
Who ‘s for the road?
Vagabond he, all conventions a-scorning,
Who ‘s for the road?
Music of warblers so merrily singing,
Draughts from the rill from the roadside up-springing,
Nectar of grapes from the vines lowly swinging,
These on the road.

Now every house is a hut or a hovel,
Come to the road:
Mankind and moles in the dark love to grovel,
But to the road.
Throw off the loads that are bending you double;
Love is for life, only labor is trouble;
Truce to the town, whose best gift is a bubble:
Come to the road!

A Spring Wooing

Come on walkin’ wid me, Lucy; ‘t ain’t no time to mope erroun’
Wen de sunshine ‘s shoutin’ glory in de sky,
An’ de little Johnny-Jump-Ups ‘s jes’ a-springin’ f’om de groun’,
Den a-lookin’ roun’ to ax each othah w’y.
Don’ you hyeah dem cows a-mooin’? Dat ‘s dey howdy to de spring;
Ain’ dey lookin’ most oncommon satisfied?
Hit ‘s enough to mek a body want to spread dey mouf an’ sing
Jes’ to see de critters all so spa’klin’-eyed.

W’y dat squir’l dat jes’ run past us, ef I did n’ know his tricks,
    I could swaih he ‘d got ‘uligion jes’ to-day;
An’ dem liza’ds slippin’ back an’ fofe ermong de stones an’ sticks
    Is a-wigglin’ ‘cause dey feel so awful gay.
Oh, I see yo’ eyes a-shinin’ dough you try to mek me b’lieve
    Dat you ain’ so monst’ous happy ‘cause you come;
But I tell you dis hyeah weathah meks it moughty ha’d to ‘ceive
    Ef a body’s soul ain’ blin’ an’ deef an’ dumb.

Robin whistlin’ ovah yandah ez he buil’ his little nes’;
    Whut you reckon dat he sayin’ to his mate?
He’s a-sayin’ dat he love huh in de wo’ds she know de bes’,
    An’ she lookin’ moughty pleased at whut he state.
Now, miss lucy, dat ah robin sholy got his sheer o’ sense,
    An’ de hen-bird got huh mothah-wit fu’ true;
So I t’ink ef you ‘ll ixcuse me, fu’ I do’ mean no erfence,
    Dey ‘s a lesson in dem birds fu’ me an’ you.

I ‘s a-buil’in’ o’ my cabin, an’ I ‘s vines erbove de do’
     Fu’ to kin’ o’ gin it sheltah f’om de sun;
Gwine to have a little kitchen wid a reg’lar wooden flo’,
     An’ dey ‘ll be a back verandy w’en hit ‘s done.
I ‘s a-waitin’ fu’ you, Lucy, tek de ‘zample o’ de birds,
     Dat ‘s a-lovin’ an’ a-matin’ evahwhaih.
I cain’ tell you dat I loves you in de robin’s music wo’ds,
     But my cabin ‘s talkin’ fu’ me ovah thaih!

Joggin’ Erlong

De da’kest hour, dey allus say,
Is des’ befo’ de dawn,
But it’s moughty ha’d a-waitin’
W’ere de night goes frownin’ on;
An’ it’s moughty ha’d a-hopin’
W’en de clouds is big an’ black,
An’ all de t’ings you ‘s waited fu’
Has failed, er gone to wrack —
But des’ keep on a-joggin’ wid a little bit o’ song,
De mo’n is allus brightah w’en de night’s been long.

Dey ‘s lots o’ knocks you ‘s got to tek
Befo’ yo’ journey ‘s done,
An’ dey ‘s times w’en you ‘ll be wishin’
Dat de weary race was run;
W’en you want to give up tryin’
An’ des’ float erpon de wave,
W’en you don’t feel no mo’ sorrer
Ez you t’ink erbout de grave —
Den, des’ keep on a-joggin’ wid a little bit o’ song,
De mo’n is allus brightah w’en de night’s been long.

De whup-lash sting a good deal mo’
De back hit ‘s knowed befo’,
An’ de burden ‘s allus heavies’
Whaih hits weight has made a so’;
Dey is times w’en tribulation
Seems to git de uppah han’
An’ to whip de weary trav’lah
‘Twell he ain’t got stren’th to stan’ —
But des’ keep on a-joggin’ wid a little bit o’ song,
De mo’n is allus brightah w’en de night’s been long.

In May

Oh to have you in May,
     To talk with you under the trees,
Dreaming throughout the day,
     Drinking the wine-like breeze,

Oh it were sweet to think
     That May should be ours again,
Hoping it not, I shrink,
     Out of the sight of men.

May brings the flowers to bloom,
     It brings the green leaves to the tree,
And the fatally sweet perfume,
     Of what you once were to me.


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!

O burning doubt and long regret,
O tears with which our eyes are wet,
   Heart-throbs, heart-aches, the glut of pain,
   The somber cloud, the bitter rain,
You were not of those dreams — ah! well,
Your full fruition who can tell?
   Wealth, fame, and love, ah! love that beams
   Upon our souls, all dreams — ah! dreams.

The Tryst

De night creep down erlong de lan’,
     De shadders rise an’ shake,
De frog is sta’tin’ up his ban’,
     De cricket is awake;
My wo’k is mos’ nigh done, celes’,
     To-night I won’t be late,
I ‘s hu’yin’ thoo my level bes’,
     Wait fu’ me by de gate.

De mockin’-bird ‘ll sen’ his glee
     A-thrillin’ thoo and thoo,
I know dat ol’ magnolia-tree
     Is smellin’ des’ fu’ you;
De jessamine erside de road
     Is bloomin’ rich an’ white, My hea’t ‘s a-th’obbin’ ‘cause it knowed
     You ‘d wait fu’ me to-night.

Hit ‘s lonesome, ain’t it, stan’in’ thaih
Wid no one nigh to talk?
But ain’t dey whispahs in de aih
Erlong de gyahden walk?
Don’t somep’n kin’ o’ call my name,
An’ say “he love you bes’”?
Hit ‘s true, I wants to say de same,
So wait fu’ me, Celes’.

Sing somep’n fu’ to pass de time,
     Outsing de mockin’-bird,
You got de music an’ de rhyme,
     You beat him wid de word.
I ‘s comin’ now, my wo’k is done,
     De hour has come fu’ res’,
I wants to fly, but only run —
     Wait fu’ me, deah Celes’.

A Plea

Treat me nice, Miss Mandy Jane,
          Treat me nice.
Dough my love has tu’ned my brain,
          Treat me nice.
I ain’t done a t’ing to shame,
Lovahs all ac’s jes’ de same;
Don’t you know we ain’t to blame?
          Treat me nice!

Cose I know I ‘s talkin’ wild;
        Treat me nice;
I cain’t talk no bettah, child,
        Treat me nice;
Whut a pusson gwine to do,
Wen he come a-cou’tin’ you
All a-trimblin’ thoo and thoo?
        Please be nice.

Reckon I mus’ go de paf
         Othahs do:
Lovahs lingah, ladies laff;
         Mebbe you
Do’ mean all the things you say,
An’ pu’haps some latah day
W’en I baig you ha’d, you may
         Treat me nice!

The Dove

Out of the sunshine and out of the heat,
Out of the dust of the grimy street,
A song fluttered down in the form of a dove,
And it bore me a message, the one word — Love!

Ah, I was toiling, and oh, I was sad:
I had forgotten the way to be glad.
Now, smiles for my sadness and for my toil, rest
Since the dove fluttered down to its home in my breast!

A Warm Day in Winter

“Sunshine on de medders,
     Greenness on de way;
Dat ‘s de blessed reason
     I sing all de day.”
Look hyeah! Whut you axin’?
     Whut meks me so merry?
‘Spect to see me sighin’
     W’en hit’s wa’m in Febawary?

‘Long de stake an’ rider
     Seen a robin set;
W’y hit ‘mence a-thawin’,
     Groun’ is monst’ous wet.
Den you stan’ dah wond’rin’,
     Lookin’ skeert an’ stary;
I’s a right to caper
     W’en hit’s wa’m in Febawary.

Missis gone a-drivin’,
     Mastah gone to shoot;
Ev’ry da’ky lazin’
     In de sun to boot.
Qua’tah ‘s moughty pleasant,
     Hangin’ ‘roun’ my Mary;
Cou’tin’ boun’ to prospah
     W’en hit’s wa’m in Febawary.

Cidah look so pu’ty
    Po’in’ f’om de jug —
Don’ you see it’s happy?
    Hyeah it laffin’ — glug?
Now’s de time fu’ people
    Fu’ to try an’ bury
All dey grief an’ sorrer,
    W’en hit’s wa’m in Febawary.


Dey is snow upon de meddahs, dey is snow upon de hill,
An’ de little branch’s watahs is all glistenin’ an’ still;
De win’ goes roun’ de cabin lak a sperrit wan’erin’ ‘roun’.
An’ de chillen shakes an’ shivahs as dey listen to de soun’.
Dey is hick’ry in de fiahplace, whah de blaze is risin’ high,
But de heat it meks ain’t wa’min’ up de gray clouds in de sky.
Now an’ den I des peep outside, den I hurries to de do’,
Lawd a mussy on my body, how I wish it would n’t snow!

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