Although the life story of Paul Laurence Dunbar begins and ends in Dayton, Ohio, the story of his literary work carries far beyond the confines of the city where he lived and died. As one of the first nationally-known African-American writers, Dunbar's life reflects many of the larger historical trends of the country and the city in which he was raised. Despite humble beginnings, Dunbar's short life produced a legacy of critically acclaimed literature that influenced writers of the Harlem Renaissance and continues to influence contemporary American literature into the 21st century.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio, on June 27, 1872. His parents, Joshua Dunbar and Matilda Murphy Dunbar, were married just six months earlier, on December 24, 1871. Both slaves prior to the Civil War, Joshua Dunbar escaped and eventually served in both the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry Regiment before eventually coming to Dayton. Matilda had been married previously and had two sons from that relationship. Following Paul's birth, relations between Joshua and Matilda were challenged by Joshua's difficulties in finding work and his growing alcoholism. Soon pregnant with Joshua's second child, Matilda eventually left her husband, taking her children and returning to live with her mother, where Matilda gave birth to a daughter, who died when she was two years old. Matilda eventually divorced Joshua, who passed away in 1885 when Paul was 13 years old. Many of their experiences of slave and plantation life influenced Dunbar's later writings.
This photo features 10c Paul Laurence Dunbar imperforate stamps from 1975. They will be on display in the Freedom Just Around the Corner: Black America from Civil War to Civil Rights exhibit that will open on Feb. 12, 2015 at the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.
Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Born on June 27,1872; died on February 9, 1906; grew up in Dayton, Ohio.
African-American poet, novelist and playwright; activated in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
His parents had been slaves in Kentucky before the American Civil War; father died when Paul was twelve.
Showed prowess; started writing at young age ; published first poem at age 16.
The speaker is the people who have no freedom, and who experience the pain of captivity.
The context and setting
A bird locked in a cage unable to fly in the beautiful spring, unable to go his home.
Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
Read the poem, “Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), a prominent African-American poet who was the son of ex-slaves. Then, write an essay in which you analyze the speaker’s sympathy for the caged bird by discussing the literary and poetic devices that illuminate or contribute to the poem’s theme.
The relationship between Matilda and her son, Paul, was a strong one. Recognizing that Paul displayed an early talent with words, Matilda worked to ensure he received the best education possible. His two older step-brothers dropped out of school in order to find work and help support the family, but Matilda would not let the same thing happen to Paul. He attended the Tenth Street Elementary School in Dayton, and then continued his education by attending Central High School. At Central, he was the only African American in his class, of which Orville Wright was also a member. During high school, Paul wrote and published poems in his school newspaper, eventually serving as editor, and was also an active member in the literary and debate societies. His poetry was also published in the local Dayton Herald, and Dunbar edited a new, but short-lived, African American paper, The Tattler, which was printed by his classmate, Orville Wright.
“He was the first African-American to be accepted by the discipline of American literature when most people thought that most African-Americans would not have anything to write about,” said LaVerne Sci, a nationally respected Dunbar expert and retired site manager of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site at 219 North Paul Laurence Dunbar St. “Dunbar’s name is synonymous with hard work and hope.”
Line 3: " when the wind stirs soft through the springing grass"
Line 5,6"when the first bird sings and the first bud opes"
"and the faint perfume from its chalice steals"
Here the poet uses alliteration twice using the letters "w" and "s"
At the end of every sentence:"alas", "slopes", "grass", "opes", "steals", "feels"
All of them have "s" in the end, so it is consonance.
Paul Laurence Dunbar
“Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, Paul Laurence Dunbar is an African American poet of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Augustine in New Orleans began with an all-white teaching staff. Some of these schools were housed in old rundown buildings and others in new, modern facilities. Some of their principals were finely attuned to the social and political nuances, while others were blunt people who could not have cared less about such things and would have failed Public Relations One.
None of these successful schools had a curriculum especially designed for blacks. Most had some passing recognition of the children's backgrounds. Dunbar High School, for example, was named for black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and it set aside one day a year to commemorate Frederick Douglass, but its curriculum could hardly be called Afrocentric. Throughout the 85 years of its academic success, it taught Latin. In some of the early years, it taught Greek as well. Its whole focus was on expanding the students' cultural horizons, not turning their minds inward.
For all I know, there may be some Afrocentric schools that are doing well.