image preview



Creation Date



Paul Laurence Dunbar, primary sources, Black history, Black poets, prominent Ohioans


Full text of letter:

1234 4th St. NW
Washington D.C.

Jan. 30, 1894

Mon bon ami:

You, no doubt have wondered of my long de-lay in replying to your last communication (I can hardly call it letter) as here to fore my replies have followed so soon when your writing me. Your last – was so brief and so tenses that I thought it best not to impose upon your patience (it seemed to be getting threadbare) in too great a hurry. I therefore delayed writing you, with the hope that the re-

(Page 2)

ceipt of my next letter would find you in a better and more expansive frame of mind. I would not like to think, mon ami, that this correspondence has grown irksome to you though I confess that in my part of it there is little to interest or amuse you.

I am not at all well at this writing having been confined to the house since last Wed-nesday, victim to a most shocking cough. I will not however further intrude my indisposition upon you.

During the time that I have been out of school

(Page 3)

(since last Wednesday) I have been reading Mr. Browning. Tell me Paul, do you not think him wilfully obscure? Should it be the aim of the poet, think you, to puzzle and perplex the mind rather than elevate and refine the soul? It does seem to me that Mr. Browning puts forth most strenuous efforts to write what no one can understand. It may be that I am too stupid to understand his flight of fancy and depths of profundity. Assist me then oh most kind friend! Tell me for instance what moral he would point out in his “Statue and the Bust” and

(Page 4)

again tell me what think you of his horrible “Gold Hair”? Then there’s “Time’s Revenge,” and parts of “Fra Lippo Lippi” and of “James Lee’s Wife” which seem to me absolutely meaningless. He is so irrelevant, that one loses the gist of many a thought, the point of many a moral in his disconnectedness. Of course, I do not mean to say that Mr. Browning has not written some very beautiful poetry, for if he had written nothing but “Evelyn Hope” he would have deserved his fame. It is an exquisite little gem. But more of him anon. I shall look eagerly for your opinion. I now commend you to your muse. Write soon to



Primary Item Type

Personal Correspondence


This item is part of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House collection at Ohio History Connection, Columbus, Ohio. The collection contains items from 219 N. Summit St., Dayton, Ohio (later 219 N. Paul Laurence Dunbar St.), the home Dunbar purchased for his mother, Matilda J. Dunbar, in 1904. Paul Laurence Dunbar lived there until his death in 1906; Matilda lived there until her death in 1934. It is now the Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site, part of the National Park Service.


Paul Laurence Dunbar, primary sources, Black history, Black poets, prominent Ohioans