The Debt

By Paul Laurence Dunbar 1872–1906 Paul Laurence Dunbar
This is the debt I pay
Just for one riotous day,
Years of regret and grief,
Sorrow without relief.

Pay it I will to the end —
Until the grave, my friend,
Gives me a true release —
Gives me the clasp of peace.

Slight was the thing I bought,
Small was the debt I thought,
Poor was the loan at best —
God! but the interest!

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Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar 1872–1906

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Crime & Punishment, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Couplet

 Paul  Laurence Dunbar

Biography

Paul Laurence Dunbar was one the first influential black poets in American literature. He enjoyed his greatest popularity in the early twentieth century following the publication of dialectic verse in collections such as Majors and Minors and Lyrics of Lowly Life. But the dialectic poems constitute only a small portion of Dunbar's canon, which is replete with novels, short stories, essays, and many poems in standard English. In . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Crime & Punishment, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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