Paul Laurence Dunbar

(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

A Career


'Break me my bounds, and let me fly
To regions vast of boundless sky;
Nor I, like piteous Daphne, be
Root-bound. Ah, no! I would be free
As yon same bird that in its flight
Outstrips the range of mortal sight;
Free as the mountain streams that gush
From bubbling springs, and downward rush
Across the serrate mountain's side,--
The rocks o'erwhelmed, their banks defied,--
And like the passions in the soul,
Swell into torrents as they roll.
Oh, circumscribe me not by rules
That serve to lead the minds of fools!
But give me pow'r to work my will,
And at my deeds the world shall thrill.
My words shall rouse the slumb'ring zest
That hardly stirs in manhood's breast;
And as the sun feeds lesser lights,
As planets have their satellites,
So round about me will I bind
The men who prize a master mind!'

He lived a silent life alone,
And laid him down when it was done;
And at his head was placed a stone
On which was carved a name unknown!

Submitted: Friday, April 02, 2010

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  • Matt Meunier (6/2/2013 10:33:00 PM)

    Does anyone know the history of this poem? I get the sense that it's slightly autobiographical and that he wrote the first part as a young man and added the ending later. (Report) Reply

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