Sunday, February 14, 2016

Paul Laurence Dunbar's Invitation to Love

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
A poem of love for Valentine's Day.

Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun has golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it to rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.

Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.
Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.


— Paul Laurence Dunbar


Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) was an early practitioner of dialect poetry and one of the first black men in America to find fame as a poet. His second volume of poetry Majors and Minors from 1895 was divided into two groups of poems — standard English poems (Majors) and dialect poetry (Minors).

Dunbar's love poems were collected and re-published together in 2007 under the title, Invitation to Love: Celebrating the Love Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar.