The Lesson (Dunbar)

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For works with similar titles, see The Lesson.
The Lesson (Dunbar)
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
In the 1913 collection of his work, The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar

  THE LESSON

  My cot was down by a cypress grove,
    And I sat by my window the whole night long,
  And heard well up from the deep dark wood
    A mocking-bird's passionate song.

  And I thought of myself so sad and lone,
    And my life's cold winter that knew no spring;
  Of my mind so weary and sick and wild,
    Of my heart too sad to sing.

  But e'en as I listened the mock-bird's song,
    A thought stole into my saddened heart,
  And I said, "I can cheer some other soul
    By a carol's simple art."

  For oft from the darkness of hearts and lives
    Come songs that brim with joy and light,
  As out of the gloom of the cypress grove
    The mocking-bird sings at night.

  So I sang a lay for a brother's ear
    In a strain to soothe his bleeding heart,
  And he smiled at the sound of my voice and lyre,
    Though mine was a feeble art.

  But at his smile I smiled in turn,
    And into my soul there came a ray:
  In trying to soothe another's woes
    Mine own had passed away.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.