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Poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar


The Mystery


  I was not; now I am--a few days hence
  I shall not be; I fain would look before
  And after, but can neither do; some Power
  Or lack of power says "no" to all I would.
  I stand upon a wide and sunless plain,
  Nor chart nor steel to guide my steps aright.
  Whene'er, o'ercoming fear, I dare to move,
  I grope without direction and by chance.
  Some feign to hear a voice and feel a hand
  That draws them ever upward thro' the gloom.
  But I--I hear no voice and touch no hand,
  Tho' oft thro' silence infinite I list,
  And strain my hearing to supernal sounds;
  Tho' oft thro' fateful darkness do I reach,
  And stretch my hand to find that other hand.
  I question of th' eternal bending skies
  That seem to neighbor with the novice earth;
  But they roll on, and daily shut their eyes
  On me, as I one day shall do on them,
  And tell me not the secret that I ask



Paul Laurence Dunbar


Paul Laurence Dunbar's other poems:
  1. The Rising of the Storm
  2. An Ante-Bellum Sermon
  3. Whittier
  4. Unexpressed
  5. Premonition


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Gilbert Chesterton The Mystery ("If sunset clouds could grow on trees")
  • Edward Sill The Mystery ("I NEVER know why 't is I love thee so")

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