Come, O Love, Whene’er You May

Come, O Love, Whene’er You May

For Nicola’s birthday, I have chosen a love poem: “Invitation to Love” by Paul Dunbar.

Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872—1906)

Poem 229. Invitation to Love

Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.
You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it to rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.
Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.
Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.

Paul Dunbar’s poem speaks of a deep need for love, a yearning: love is welcome in his heart whenever and however it comes. No matter what time of day or season of the year, our poet is ready to receive it.

I like this poem because it expresses that yearning for a soulmate so beautifully. We can easily imagine the sun-drenched hay-fields, the starlit night and winter’s drifting snows, and we can imagine wishing for someone to share in our mirth or sorrow, if we haven’t felt that desire in person. I can think of no better tribute to Nicola than this poem, which expresses so well the feelings I experienced when we discovered our love for each other.

Paul Dunbar was an internationally recognised and successful Black American poet and we can appreciate how unlikely that was at the time. He was a friend of Orville Wright, who backed Dunbar’s first collection of poems in 1893.

This poem is very popular as a performance piece in America, it seems—there are many YouTube videos of performances. I have chosen one by a professor emeritus at Dayton University.


  • Watch Dr. Herbert Woodward Martin perform the poem in an excerpt from “The Eyes of the Poet” on YouTube.