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A Powerful Poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I was reading through Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poetry book and wanted to post a poem from him. Finally I decided on this one, though it’s very tragic and very heartbreaking, it paul laurence dunbar.pngalso is sadly true. He is a poet that needs be remember more often, and this poem is so powerful because of the content; the content of the poem should make one cry. It did me.

The content is heartbreaking and though now a days there are new methods doing the same tragic thing to innocent men and women…

Truth hurts. And so below is the poem that hit me so hard tonight… It is called ‘The Haunted Oak’ by Mr. Paul Laurence Dunbar: Never Forget!!!

The Haunted Oak

Pray why are you so bare, so bare,
Oh, bough of the old oak-tree;
And why, when I go through the
shade you throw,
Runs a shudder over me?

My leaves were green as the best,
I trow,
And sap ran free in my veins,
But I saw in the moonlight dim and weird
A guiltless victim’s pain.

I bent me down to hear his sigh;
I shook with his gurgling moan,
And I trembled sore when they
rode away,
And left him here alone.

They’d charged him with the old,
old crime,
And set him fast in jail;
Oh why does the dog howl all night long,
And why does the night wind wail?

He prayed his prayer and he swore
his oath,
And he raised his hand to the sky;
But the beat of hoofs smote on his
ear,
And the stead tread drew nigh.

Who is it rides by night, by night,
Over the moonlit road?
And what is the spur that keeps
the pace,
What is the galling goad?

And now they beat at the prison door,
“Ho, keeper, do not stay!
We are friends of him whom you
hold within,
And we fain would take him
away

“From those who ride fast on our
heels
With mind to do him wrong;
They have no care for his innocence,
And the rope they bear is long.”

They have fooled the jailer with
lying words,
They have fooled the man with
lies;
The bolts unbar, the locks are
drawn,
And the great door open flies.

Now they have taken him from the jail,
And hard and fast they ride,
And the leader laughs low down
in his throat,
As they halt my trunk beside.

Oh, the judge he wore a mask of black,
And the doctor one of white,
And the minister, with his oldest
son,
Was curiously bedight.

Oh, foolish man, why weep you
now?
‘T is but a little space,
And the time will come when these
shall dread
The mem’ry of your face.

I feel the rope against my bark,
And the weight of him in my grain,
I feel in the throe of his final woe
The touch of my own last pain.

And never more shall leaves come
forth
On a bough that bears the ban;
I am burned with dread, I am
dried and dead,
From the curse of a guiltless man.

And ever the judge rides by, rides by
And goes to hunt the deer,
And ever another rides his soul,In the guise of a mortal fear.

And ever the man he rides me
hard,
And never a night stays he;
For I feel his curse as a haunted
bough,
On the trunk of a haunted tree.