The Crisis

Poem By Paul Laurence Dunbar

A man of low degree was sore oppressed,
Fate held him under iron-handed sway,
And ever, those who saw him thus distressed
Would bid him bend his stubborn will and pray.
But he, strong in himself and obdurate,
Waged, prayerless, on his losing fight with Fate.

Friends gave his proffered hand their coldest clasp,
Or took it not at all; and Poverty,
That bruised his body with relentless grasp,
Grinned, taunting, when he struggled to be free.
But though with helpless hands he beat the air,
His need extreme yet found no voice in prayer.

Then he prevailed; and forthwith snobbish Fate,
Like some whipped cur, came fawning at his feet;
Those who had scorned forgave and called him great--
His friends found out that friendship still was sweet.
But he, once obdurate, now bowed his head
In prayer, and trembling with its import, said:

'Mere human strength may stand ill-fortune's frown;
So I prevailed, for human strength was mine;
But from the killing pow'r of great renown,
Naught may protect me save a strength divine.
Help me, O Lord, in this my trembling cause;
I scorn men's curses, but I dread applause!'

Comments about The Crisis

There is no comment submitted by members.


Rating Card

5 out of 5
0 total ratings

Other poems of DUNBAR

We Wear The Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

A Golden Day

I Found you and I lost you,
All on a gleaming day.
The day was filled with sunshine,
And the land was full of May.

Life's Tragedy

It may be misery not to sing at all,
And to go silent through the brimming day;
It may be misery never to be loved,
But deeper griefs than these beset the way.

Sympathy

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;

Morning

The mist has left the greening plain,
The dew-drops shine like fairy rain,
The coquette rose awakes again
Her lovely self adorning.

Summer In The South

The Oriole sings in the greening grove
As if he were half-way waiting,
The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green,
Timid, and hesitating.