Long before the Poets of Dunbar were the poems of Dunbar.
Along the turn of the century, a black writer from Ohio wrote his way into American literary history with poems that remain fresh and vital as the 21st century approaches. His name was Paul Laurence Dunbar, and among the body of his work are three poems --entitled "Encouraged," "Preparation" and "Dreams"-- that seem as if they were written long ago to some day honor the achievements of the students who attend the East Baltimore high school that bears his name.
Oh, that Paul Laurence Dunbar could have seen the excellence achieved by the young men who played basketball this year for coach Pete Pompey! Not only were they held as the best high school team in a basketball-rich metropolitan area, they were said to have been the best squad in America, ranked No.1, season long, in the USA Today poll.
Had he witnessed this seemingly flawless team, Dunbar might have been moved to pen a poem entitled "Legacy," stanzas about traditions passed from one generation to the next. Traditions not only of athletic excellence but scholarship, community service and brotherhood.
Sun photographer Mark Bugnaski went in search of the legacy and came back with images that illustrate the encouragement, the preparation and the dream that is Dunbar.
Because you love me I have much achieved,
Had you depised me then I must have failed,
But since I knew you trusted and believed,
could not disappoint you and so prevailed.
The little bird sits in the nest and sings
A shy, soft song to the morning light;
And it flutters a little and prunes its wings.
The song is halting and poor and brief,
And the fluttering wings scarce stir a leaf;
But the note is a prelude to sweeter things,
And the busy bill and the flutter slight
Are proving the wings for a bolder flight!
What dreams we have and how they fly Like rosy clouds across the sky; Of wealth, of fame, of sure success Of love that comes to cheer and bless; And how they wither how they fade, The Waning wealth the jilting jade -- The fame that for a moment gleams. Then flies forever, -- dreams, ah -- dreams!