The Poetry Corner

The Lesson

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

My cot was down by a cypress grove, And I sat by my window the whole night long, And heard well up from the deep dark wood A mocking-bird's passionate song. And I thought of myself so sad and lone, And my life's cold winter that knew no spring; Of my mind so weary and sick and wild, Of my heart too sad to sing. But e'en as I listened the mock-bird's song, A thought stole into my saddened heart, And I said, "I can cheer some other soul By a carol's simple art." For oft from the darkness of hearts and lives Come songs that brim with joy and light, As out of the gloom of the cypress grove The mocking-bird sings at night. So I sang a lay for a brother's ear In a strain to soothe his bleeding heart, And he smiled at the sound of my voice and lyre, Though mine was a feeble art. But at his smile I smiled in turn, And into my soul there came a ray: In trying to soothe another's woes Mine own had passed away.