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About this Poem 

“Forever” was published in Dunbar’s Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow (The Century Co., 1901).

Forever

I had not known before
    Forever was so long a word.
The slow stroke of the clock of time
    I had not heard.

‘Tis hard to learn so late;
    It seems no sad heart really learns,
But hopes and trusts and doubts and fears,
    And bleeds and burns.

The night is not all dark,
    Nor is the day all it seems,
But each may bring me this relief—
    My dreams and dreams.

I had not known before
    That Never was so sad a word,
So wrap me in forgetfulness—
     I have not heard.
 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 8, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 8, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar, born in 1872 and the author of numerous collections of poetry and prose, was one of the first African-American poets to gain national recognition.

by this poet

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
poem
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;
   When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird
poem

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,