The bulletin of Atlanta University
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NUMBER 162 ATLANTA, GEORGIA MARCH, 1906 For statement of the work of Atlanta University see last page. The Death of Paul Laurence Dunbar The news of the death of Mr. Dunbar has caused wide-spread grief; for he was a gifted poet, whose fame was not bounded by either sectional or racial lines. Many notices of appreciation have appeared in the public press, one of which, from the New York Independent, we quote elsewhere. Mr. Dunbar was born in Dayton, O., June 27, 1872, and died in that same city Feb. 9, 1906, of tuberculosis. He was first a newsboy, and then an elevator boy. He began writing verse at the age of seven, and his poetry had begun to attract considerable attention by the time that he graduated from the high school in his native city. After once fairly before the public, his literary work met a hearty welcome. In all. twenty-one books have appeared from his pen. Mr. Dunbar was one of the few who have received honorary degrees from this institution, having been given the degree of A. M. by vote of the trustees in 1899. Paul Laurence Dunbar [From the N. Y. Independent,.] It is not to be pretended that the Negro poet Dunbar, who died the other day only thirty-three years old, will take a top rank in the list of American poets, but he was the recognized chief singer of his race. It is not surprising that his race has produced so few, for the United States did not supply one for two hundred years after the settlement of Jamestown. One in a twenty million people is as many as we can expect, even altho every fourth man and every other woman has the gift of rhyme. But it is to be noticed that Dunbar was pure black, with not a drop of white blood. His father ran away to Canada before the war, and his mother was freed by Lincoln's proclamation. He got a common school education and made his living by running an elevator at Dayton, Ohio, even after he had published volumes of verse. He was "discovered" by Mr. W. D. Howells. He was, for a short time, till his health failed, in the Congressional Library, at Washington. He had been seriously ill for several years before his death, which he anticipated in the lines published in Lippincott's Magazine last December: "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 had loved so vainly, And sung with such faltering breath, The Master in infinite mercy Offers the boon of Death." Much of his poetry was in the dialect he knew so well, but he wrote also in the conventional English; and published several short stories and five or six novels. His merit was that he gave melodious utterance to the feelings of black folk, and used their own peculiar vernacular as a vehicle of expression and made that vernacular classic. He found poetry in the black man's occupations and surroundings, in his loves and joys, in his disappointments and bereavements. He found a vein unworked and made artistic use of it in verse as other writers had done in prose, and he became, in the true sense of the term, a popular poet. It is observed that he did not require any infusion of white blood to give him a touch of genius. The Poet and His Song A song is but a little thing, And yet what joy it is to sing! In hours of toil it gives me zest, And when at eve I long for rest; When cows come home along the bars, And in the fold I hear the bell, As Night, the shepherd, herds his stars, I sing my song, and all is well. There are no ears to hear my lays, No lips to lift a word, of praise; But still, with faith unfaltering, I live and laugh and love and sing. "What matters yon unheeding throng? They cannot feel my spirit's spell, Since life is sweet and love is long, I sing my song, and all is well. My days are never days of ease; I till my ground and prune my trees. When ripened gold is all the plain, I put my sickle to the grain. I labor hard, and toil and sweat, While others dream within the dell; But even while my brow is wet, I sing my song, and all is well. Sometimes the sun, unkindly hot, My garden makes a desert spot; Sometimes a blight upon the tree Takes all my fruit away from me; And then with throes of bitter pain Rebellious passions rise and swell; But—life is more than fruit or grain, And so I sing, and all is well. Dawn An angel, robed in spotless white, Bent down and kissed the sleeping Night. Night woke to blush; the sprite was gone. Men saw the blush and called it Dawn. Paul Laurence Dunbar. The annual catalogue is likely to be ready several weeks earlier than usual, probably before our next issue. It shows the re-arranged normal course of study, as adopted by the trustees last June. The total number of students whose names appear is 340; a much larger number than any previous year since the dropping of the grammar department in 1894. Of this total number two are graduate students, 46 are in the college course, 45 in the normal course, and 247 in the high school. Rev. and Mrs. L. P. Broad of Boston, Mass., interested us very much at the morning service on Sunday, Feb. 4. Mr. Broad spoke in a general way upon home missionary work, and Mrs. Broad emphasized the thought that it was within the power of all to engage effectively in it. Mrs. Broad also spoke at our Wednesday evening meeting, Feb. 21, upon missionary work among the In dians. Miss Rose LeVille Huff, musical director in the Northern Illinois State Normal School, spoke and sang to us March 1, at the close of the chapel service. She has made a special study of folk song, and delighted us very much. She has visited a number of colored institutions, recently, in her study of this subject. The Saturday night address Feb. 10 was by Prof. Chase, being an interesting description of Switzerland. Two weeks later Mr. Robert L. Smith ('80) of Paris, Texas, who was here for two days, gave to us an account of the origin, principles, and present work of the Farmers' Improvement Society in Texas. The Atlanta Woman's Club held a special puplic meeting on the night of March 6, as a memorial to Paul Laurence Dunbar. Prof. DuBois gave an appropriate address, and our quartet sang. Prof. Wm. Pickens of Talladega College, and others, also took part in the exercises. The public rhetorical exercises Feb. 16 were largely attended and very good. One of the essays, by W. R. Banks ('09), is printed elsewhere in this issue.
|Title||The bulletin of Atlanta University, 1906 no. 162|
Universities & colleges
|Description||The bulletin of Atlanta University was a publication sent to faculty, friend and alumni of the institution; Telling of the institution's progress and present needs. This issue is March 1906, no. 162.|
|Holding Library||Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center|