poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this Poem 

“Compensation” was originally published in Dunbar’s 1905 collection Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow.

Compensation

Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 - 1906

Because I had loved so deeply,
Because I had loved so long,
God in His great compassion
Gave me the gift of song.

Because I have loved so vainly,
And sung with such faltering breath,
The Master in infinite mercy
Offers the boon of Death.

This poem is in the public domain. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 26, 2014.

This poem is in the public domain. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 26, 2014.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

One of the first African-American poets to gain national recognition, Paul Laurence Dunbar is the author of many books of poetry.

by this poet

poem
Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing;
   I look far out into the pregnant night,
Where I can hear a solemn booming gun
   And catch the gleaming of a random light,
That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing.

My tearful eyes my soul's deep hurt are glassing;
   For I would hail and check
poem
G'way an' quit dat noise, Miss Lucy--
    Put dat music book away;
What's de use to keep on tryin'?
  Ef you practise twell you're gray,
You cain't sta't no notes a-flyin'
  Lak de ones dat rants and rings
F'om de kitchen to de big woods
  When Malindy sings.

You ain't got de nachel o'gans
  Fu' to make de soun
poem
I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
   When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
   When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird