May 03, 2011

A Dunbar poem that LeDroit Park inspired

One of LeDroit Park’s notable residents was famed poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.  Mr. Dubar lived at 1934 4th St NW with his wife Alice.

After Mr. Dunbar’s death, his widow, Alice, published an article analyzing his poetry.  In it she noted that Spruce Street (now LeDroit Park’s segment of U Street NW) inspired the poem “Lover’s Lane”:

The white arc light of the corner lamp, filtering through the arches of the maples on Spruce street, make for the tender suggestion in “Lover’s Lane,” where the lovers walk side by side under the “shadder-mekin’ ”

Below we have reprinted “Lover’s Lane” followed by an old audio recording of Paul Robeson singing a hearty bass-barritone version of the Dunbar poem.

Lover’s Lane

SUMMAH night an’ sighin’ breeze,
’Long de lovah’s lane;
Frien’ly, shadder-mekin’ trees,
’Long de lovah’s lane.
White folks’ wo’k all done up gran’—
Me an’ ’Mandy han’-in-han’
Struttin’ lak we owned de lan’,
’Long de lovah’s lane.

Owl a-settin’ ’side de road,
’Long de lovah’s lane,
Lookin’ at us lak he knowed
Dis uz lovah’s lane.
Go on, hoot yo’ Mou’nful tune,
You ain’ nevah loved in June,
An’ come hidin’ f’om de moon
Down in lovah’s lane.

Bush it ben’ an’ nod an’ sway,
Down in lovah’s lane,
Try’n’ to hyeah me whut I say
’Long de lovah’s lane.
But I whispahs low lak dis,
An’ my ’Mandy smile huh bliss—
Mistah Bush he shek his fis’,
Down in lovah’s lane.

Whut I keer ef day is long,
Down in lovah’s lane.
I kin allus sing a song
’Long de lovah’s lane.
An’ de wo’ds I hyeah an’ say
Meks up fu’ de weary day
Wen I’s strollin’ by de way,
Down in lovah’s lane.

An’ dis t’ought will allus rise
Down in lovah’s lane;
Wondah whethah in de skies
Dey’s a lovah’s lane.
Ef dey ain’t, I tell you true,
’Ligion do look mighty blue,
’Cause I do’ know whut I’d do
’Dout a lovah’s lane.

Categories: History
Tags: ,

1 Reply

  1. He lived initially at 1934 4th, but moved to the 300 block of U Street, which is where he lived with his wife. (The U Street house was torn down and rebuilt as low-income housing.)

    R. Sullivan - May 8, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

Leave a comment