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About this Poem 

“Compensation” was originally published in Dunbar’s 1905 collection Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow.

Compensation

Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 - 1906

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 have loved so vainly,
And sung with such faltering breath,
The Master in infinite mercy
Offers the boon of Death.

This poem is in the public domain. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 26, 2014.

This poem is in the public domain. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 26, 2014.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

One of the first African-American poets to gain national recognition, Paul Laurence Dunbar is the author of many books of poetry.

by this poet

poem
Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing;
   I look far out into the pregnant night,
Where I can hear a solemn booming gun
   And catch the gleaming of a random light,
That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing.

My tearful eyes my soul's deep hurt are glassing;
   For I would hail and check
poem
This is the debt I pay
Just for one riotous day,
Years of regret and grief,
Sorrow without relief.

Pay it I will to the end—
Until the grave, my friend,
Gives me a true release—
Gives me the clasp of peace.

Slight was the thing I bought,
Small was the debt I thought,
Poor was the loan at best—
God! but the
poem
I

Beyond the years the answer lies,
Beyond where brood the grieving skies
   And Night drops tears.
Where Faith rod-chastened smiles to rise
   And doff its fears,
And carping Sorrow pines and dies—
   Beyond the years.

II

Beyond the years the prayer for rest
Shall beat no more within the breast;
   The