Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The Old Cabin

Additional Information
  • Year Published: 1913
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Source: Dunbar, P.L. (1913). The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company.
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 6.5
  • Word Count: 400
  • Genre: Poetry
  • Keywords: freedom, home, life
  • ✎ Cite This
  • Share |


In de dead of night I sometimes,
Git to t’inkin’ of de pas’
An’ de days w’en slavery helt me
In my mis’ry—ha’d an’ fas’.
Dough de time was mighty tryin’,
In dese houahs somehow hit seem
Dat a brightah light come slippin’
Thoo de kivahs of my dream.

An’ my min’ fu’gits de whuppins
Draps de feah o’ block an’ lash
An’ flies straight to somep’n’ joyful
In a secon’s lightnin’ flash.
Den hit seems I see a vision
Of a dearah long ago
Of de childern tumblin’ roun’ me
By my rough ol’ cabin do’.

Talk about yo’ go’geous mansions
An’ yo’ big house great an’ gran’,
Des bring up de fines’ palace
Dat you know in all de lan’.
But dey’s somep’n’ dearah to me,
Somep’n’ faihah to my eyes
In dat cabin, less you bring me
To yo’ mansion in de skies.

I kin see de light a–shinin’
Thoo de chinks atween de logs,
I kin hyeah de way–off bayin’
Of my mastah’s huntin’ dogs,
An’ de neighin’ of de hosses
Stampin’ on de ol’ bahn flo’,
But above dese soun’s de laughin’
At my deah ol’ cabin do’.

We would gethah daih at evenin’,
All my frien’s ‘ud come erroun’
An’ hit wan’t no time, twell, bless you,
You could hyeah de banjo’s soun’.
You could see de dahkies dancin’
Pigeon wing an’ heel an’ toe—
Joyous times I tell you people
Roun’ dat same ol’ cabin do’.

But at times my t’oughts gits saddah,
Ez I riccolec’ de folks,
An’ dey frolickin’ an’ talkin’
Wid dey laughin’ an dey jokes.
An’ hit hu’ts me w’en I membahs
Dat I’ll nevah see no mo’
Dem ah faces gethered smilin’
Roun’ dat po’ ol’ cabin do’.