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The Poet By Paul Laurence Dunbar

657 words - 3 pages

The Poet by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Before we pass on from this world it would be nice if we had left our mark, given our contribution, made our claim in the history of human civilization. Wouldn't it be wonderful to achieve such a goal? Wouldn't it be horrible to have attained that level of recognition and yet be recognized for things you deemed inferior? In the poem "The Poet", Paul Laurence Dunbar expresses his remorse at having written superior Standard English literature and yet only be known and praised for his Dialect works.
The first way Dunbar achieves this meaning is by his use of language. When Dunbar is talking about standard English poetry he speaks "of life, serenely sweet/ With, now and then, a deeper tone" (Dunbar 1-2). As he's talking about his standard English poems, he uses sentimental language invoking images of peacefulness and bliss. The second half of the line alludes to the fact that Dunbar feels with standard English he is more free with expression than Dialect which he feels can only represent emotions of happiness or sadness. In the second stanza Dunbar tries to develop feelings of lament in the reader. "He sang of love when earth was young/ And love, itself, was in his lays" (Dunbar 5-6). He continues to use romantic almost even melodramatic language to bring to mind images of earlier times that were better than the dreary world of his day. In the last lines of the poem the language changes and expresses grief over the fact that the general public only recognizes him for his Dialect works. Dunbar writes "But ah, the world, it turned to praise/ A jingle in a broken tongue" (Dunbar 7-8). Here he is mocking the Dialect tradition, as he doesn't consider it to be poetry. He refers to it as a "jingle", which causes the reader to think of advertisements and "selling out". We know that he was talking about the...

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