Classic Spice; Poems

Fruit page 1214-1215 by perpetualplum




I have seen full many a sight

Born of day or drawn by night

Sunlight on a silver stream,

Golden lilies all a-dream,

Lofty mountains bold and proud,

Veiled beneath the facelike cloud;

But no lovely sight I know

Equals Dinah kneading dough.

Brown arms buried elbow-deep

Their domestic rhythm keep,

As with steady sweep they go

Through the gently yielding dough.

Maids may vaunt their finer charms–

Naught to me like Dinah’s arms;

Girls may draw, or paint, or sew–

I love Dinah kneading dough.

Eyes of jet and teeth of pearl,

Hair, some say, too tight a -curl;

But the dainty maid I deem

Very near perfection’s dream

Swift she works, and only flings

Me a glance– the least of things.

And I wonder, does she know

That my heart is in the dough?

Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906) author of Lyrics of Lowly Life (1896) a best-selling book, was called the Poet Laureate of the Negro Race by Booker T. Washington. Although he held the ideal of his work appealing to a cross-cultural audience, because of limited opportunities and racial inequity, his publishers would publish most of his later work only in Southern Dialect. In 1893 his first collection of 56 poems were published entitled; Oak and Ivy. Ironically, Dunbar before his death was an internationally acclaimed poet and fiction writer that earned him a clerkship position with the U.S. Library of Congress.



(stanzas 1-30)


Morning and evening

Maids heart the goblins cry:

“Come buy, come buy:

Apples and quinces,

Lemons and oranges,

Plump unpecked cherries,

Melons and raspberries,

Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,

Swart-headed mullberries,

Wild free-born cranberries,

Crab-apples, dewberries,

Pine-apples, blackberries,

Apricots, strawberries;–

All ripe together

In summer weather–

Morns that pass by,

Fair eyes that fly;

Come buy, come buy:

Our grapes fresh from the vine,

Pomergranates full and fine,

Dates and sharp bullaces,

Rare pears and greengages,

Damsons and billberries,

Taste them and try:

Currants and gooseberries,

Bright-fire-like barberries,

Figs to fill your mouth,

Citrons from the South,

Sweet tongue and sound to eye;

Come buy, come buy.”

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) a lyric poet of the 18th Century, was born into a strict religious Italian family, yet she was exposed at an early age to politics, art and literature that helped to shape her sensibilities. She refused to marry and lived a quiet life, spending her time doing charitable work for others. Before the publication of her first volume of poems; Goblin Market and Other Poems in 1862, she volunteered for a penitentiary for fallen women. Writer Virginia Wolf described Rossetti’s work as a combination of sensuousness and religious severity.

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