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DUNBAR, Paul Laurence (1872-1906). Autograph manuscript signed ("Paul Laurence Dunbar") of his sonnet "Harriet Beecher Stowe," n.p., n.d. [1898?].
DUNBAR, Paul Laurence (1872-1906). Autograph manuscript signed ("Paul Laurence Dunbar") of his sonnet "Harriet Beecher Stowe," n.p., n.d. [1898?].

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DUNBAR, Paul Laurence (1872-1906). Autograph manuscript signed ("Paul Laurence Dunbar") of his sonnet "Harriet Beecher Stowe," n.p., n.d. [1898?].

1 page, 4o (267 x203mm.), in blue ink on thin typing paper, evidently the printers' copy, with markings in upper left-hand corner. Quarter brown morocco clamshell case. Provenance: Marjorie Wiggin Prescott (sale, Christie's, 6 February 1981, lot 101).

The African-American poet's verse tribute to Harriet Beecher Stowe was first published in the Century Magazine in November 1898, some 45 years after publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852. Stowe's dramatic anti-slavery novel was translated into some 20 languages and in the United States it became the best-selling book of the 19th century. Dunbar's sonnet was collected in Lyrics of the Hearthside (1899). Autograph poetry of Dunbar is VERY RARE.

"She told the story, and the whole world wept
At wrongs and cruelties it had not known
But for this fearless woman's voice alone.
She spoke to consciences that long had slept:
Her message, Freedom's clear reveille, swept
From heedless hovel to complacent throne.
Command and prophecy were in the tone,
And from its sheath the sword of justice leapt.
Around two peoples swelled a fiery wave,
But both came forth transfigured from the flame.
Blest be the hand that dared be strong to save,
And blest be she who in our weakness came-
Prophet and priestess! At one stroke she gave
A race to freedom, and herself to fame."

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