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Selected Poems

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  65 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Paul Laurence Dunbar was "the most promising young colored man" in nineteenth-century America, according to Frederick Douglass, and subsequently one of the most controversial. His plantation lyrics, written while he was an elevator boy in Ohio, established Dunbar as the premier writer of dialect poetry and garnered him international recognition. More than a vernacular lyri ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published March 30th 2004 by Penguin Books (first published July 11th 1997)
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Anne Tinklenberg
I found some of Paul Laurence Dunbar's poems such as, "We Were the Mask", gripping. However, I struggled with his romantic poems written in standard English. The tyranny of the rhyme robbed the poems of concrete detail or meaning. They didn't evoke a specific moment or emotion for me, but rather a generic sentiment or time. Some of the poems that were written in vernacular, though they maintained a rhythm, were more interesting. The rhyme seemed to be playful, almost slyly mocking the content of ...more
Kit
Jun 03, 2015 Kit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
Some really great poems in here. A thinner culling might have been even better. Though I am left wanting to read more of Dunbar's prose now.
Ruben Dario
Jan 02, 2017 Ruben Dario rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fine poems from an important African-American writer. Some of the poems are in dialects , others are in conventional English. My favorite is Sympathy with the famous verse I know why the caged bird sings.
Ian
Jul 02, 2012 Ian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Selected Poems had its moments but overall I didn't love it. If people know about Dunbar at all it is usually because Maya Angelou took the title of her seminal novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings from his poem, "Sympathy."

I was skeptical when I read it but true to a central premise of the intro essay by Herman Woodward Martin, poet and professor emeritus at University of Dayton (birthplace of Dunbar), to this collection of poems, I have to concur with Martin that Dunbar's best work were his
...more
Jim
Dunbar is my new favourite poet!
he wrote a lot of poetry in dialect, think of Robt Service writing of the South instead of the Yukon. this edition is the two dollar dover, one of the best bargains i've gotten. should be able to find is work in the public domain, ie. Bartleby.com.
one poem, The Haunted Oak, is written from the view point of an oak tree in which an innocent man was hung from.

if someone gave me a choice of books i've not read by Service, Millay and Dunbar i don't know whose i'd p
...more
Julie
Sep 30, 2013 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dunbar was a masterful writer and it was a pleasure to get lost in his words. Great poets let you brush up against their soul, and Dunbar was a great poet. Thanks to Maya Angelou, most of us have heard "Sympathy", which starts "I know what the caged bird feels, alas!". But there were many other wonderful poems in this selection. "The Colored Soldiers" will illicit goosebumps of pride. And "My Sort O' Man" is a timeless reflection on our society. Would highly recommend.
Mackenzie
As with all poetry, each individual work must stand for itself, and it is hard to judge an overall collection when the feelings towards individual pieces lead to ambivalence towards the whole, in my opinion. The poems give a glimpse into the world of life for Blacks in the South around the times of the Civil War. About half of the works are written to mirror the speech patterns of that time, so you almost have to read them aloud to get the sound right and know what it is supposed to say.
Tara
May 08, 2011 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great selection of poems. I love Dunbar's funny poems and his romantic poems are adorable. This is a great poetry book.
Emily Dybdahl
Beautifully written. I loved the 19th-century style of his non-dialect poetry, and Dinah Kneading Dough was my favorite of his dialect poems.
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25129
Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 – February 9, 1906) was a seminal American poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dunbar gained national recognition for his 1896 Lyrics of a Lowly Life, one poem in the collection Ode to Ethiopia. In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Paul Laurence Dunbar on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.

Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio to parents who
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