"As far as I could remember, Paul Dunbar was (or is) the only man of pure African blood and of American civilization to feel the negro life aesthetically and lyrically... Some of these [poems] I thought very good, and even more than very good, but not distinctively his contribution to the body of American poetry... These are divinations and reports of what passes in the hearts and minds of a lowly people whose poetry had hitherto been inarticulately expressed in music, but now finds, for the first time in our tongue, literary interpretation of a very artistic completeness."
So wrote William Dean Howells (1837 - 1920) in his introduction for Paul Dunbar's collection, Lyrics of Lowly Life. Howells was one of the reigning stars of the American literati during the late 19th Century and editor of The Atlantic Monthly (1871 – 1881) - so he should know what he's talking about.
- two from Amazon: