Paul Laurence Dunbar

June 27, 1872 – February 9, 1906

A Boy's Summer Song

'Tis fine to play

In the fragrant hay,
And romp on the golden load;
To ride old Jack
To the barn and back,
Or tramp by a shady road.
To pause and drink,
At a mossy brink;
Ah, that is the best of joy,
And so I say
On a summer's day,
What's so fine as being a boy? Ha, Ha!
With line and hook
By a babbling brook,
The fisherman's sport we ply;
And list the song
Of the feathered throng
That flit in the branches nigh.
At last we strip
For a quiet dip;
Ah, that is the best of joy.
For this I say
On a summer's day,
What's so fine as being a boy? Ha, Ha!

Mr. Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio. His parents were both ex-slaves. After some marital problems, his mother Matilda took all of her children and left. Paul was 12 when his father died. Dunbar was helped with schooling by his self taught mother, and he wrote his first poem at 6. When he went to Central High School, he was the only black student. Even as black student, he was well accepted, and became the school's newspaper editor.

At 18, he wrote Dayton's first weekly African American newspaper, The Tattler. The paper was printed by his fellow students, Wilbur and Orville Wright. United Brethren Publishing House printed his first poetry collection in 1893, called Oak and Ivy. After this he got another book published, titled Majors and Minors. Even with these two decently selling books, he could barely keep he and his mother afloat, as he was known to be a risky spender. Nevertheless, he gained more success in the future. He died of Tuberculosis at 33.