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Just Whistle a Bit
by
Paul Laurence Dunbar


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Just whistle a bit, if the day be dark,
And the sky be overcast:
If mute be the voice of the piping lark,
Why, pipe your own small blast.

And it's wonderful how o'er the gray sky-track
The truant warbler comes stealing back.
But why need he come? for your soul's at rest,
And the song in the heart,--ah, that is best.

Just whistle a bit, if the night be drear
And the stars refuse to shine:
And a gleam that mocks the starlight clear
Within you glows benign.

Till the dearth of light in the glooming skies
Is lost to the sight of your soul-lit eyes.
What matters the absence of moon or star?
The light within is the best by far.

Just whistle a bit, if there 's work to do,
With the mind or in the soil.
And your note will turn out a talisman true
To exorcise grim Toil.

It will lighten your burden and make you feel
That there 's nothing like work as a sauce for a meal.
And with song in your heart and the meal in--its place,
There 'll be joy in your bosom and light in your face.

Just whistle a bit, if your heart be sore;
'Tis a wonderful balm for pain.
Just pipe some old melody o'er and o'er
Till it soothes like summer rain.

And perhaps 't would be best in a later day,
When Death comes stalking down the way,
To knock at your bosom and see if you 're fit,
Then, as you wait calmly, just whistle a bit.

 This poem is in the public domain.


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Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) was from Ohio. He wrote his first poem at the age of six, was editor of his high school newspaper, and published his first book at twenty. His writing attracted attention from the very beginning, and Paul became well-known in both America and around the world. Like James Whitcomb Riley, who was a fan of his young contemporary's work, Paul wrote many of his poems in dialect. Besides a dozen books of poetry, Paul wrote four short story collections, five novels, a play, and the first  Broadway musical ever written and performed by African-Americans. A tremendously successful poet whose work was being published in all the major literary publications of his day, Paul's life was cut tragically short by tuberculosis.


Post New Comment:
twinkscat:
I can't whistle either, but I love Dunbar's rhythm and cadence.
Posted 12/13/2012 10:28 AM
CamilleBalla:
Amazing! "The light within is the best by far." Now if only I could whistle, but I can hum and I can sing.
Posted 12/12/2012 07:13 AM


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