Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)|
I lafs und sings, und shumps aroundt.
I hugs mine child, und giss mine vife.
Eleetion gomes, I makes mire speech,
De oder night I got me mad,
Next day I gomes pefore de judge,
I took mine bocket book qvick oud,
Und den dey dakes me off to shail,
Und from dot day I drinks no more,
Paul Laurence Dunbar was America's first professional black literary man (Braxton, ix). Considered primarily as a black dialect poet by his contemporary critics, he is perhaps better known today for his "more traditional poem" We Wear the Mask as well as for writing the poem that inspired the title to Maya Angelou's autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. His poetry covers a wide range of topics and styles, as illustrated by the above poem that humorously reflects a German-American dialetic.
The above poem originally appeared in the Dayton, Ohio Tattler on December 13, 1890, attributed to Pffenberger Deutzelheim. It can be found, for example, in: