This whimsical poem of four lines goes as follows:
An angel, robed in spotless white,
Bent down and kissed the sleeping Night.
Night woke to blush; the sprite was gone.
Men saw the blush and called it Dawn.
The theme of this poem is love. God's love wakes up the world and brings on the beautiful rosy colored dawn.
In the poem, Dunbar personifies (give human traits to) Night, depicting is as a woman asleep. An angel—a messenger from God—kisses Night. To kiss a person symbolizes love. The angel's spotless white robe symbolizes purity. The angel therefore sends Night a message of love from God. This is a message of a pure or spotless form of love. This message—this kiss—awakes Night, delighting and surprising her, and causes dawn or light to come into the world.
The larger theme is that love, which comes from God, wakes up and lights up all of us. It brings us from the darkness of night to the light of dawn.
The poem "Dawn," by Paul Laurence Dunbar, is a short, four line poem. The poem, while not long, provides a very distinct theme. Given that theme refers to the subject of a poem, Dunbar provides two very direct clues as to the theme, the title and the last line.
The title of the poem allows readers to identify the subject of the text. Given that the poem describes how dawn came about, by a white-robed angel kissing night and night blushing, the poem's theme is solidified.
The last line of the poem describes how dawn was named. Men saw Night blush, after being kissed by the white-robed angel, and named it based upon the hue of color seen on the cheek of Night. Given that night was no longer darkened, the dawn was named for the oncoming of light.