• BABG

Georgia Douglas Johnson: Poetry

(1880–1966)

A member of the Harlem Renaissance, Georgia Douglas Johnson wrote plays, a syndicated newspaper column, and four collections of poetry: The Heart of a Woman (1918), Bronze (1922), An Autumn Love Cycle (1928), and Share My World (1962).

Johnson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to parents of African American, Native American, and English descent. She graduated from Atlanta University Normal College and studied music at the Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland College of Music. After graduation, she taught and worked as an assistant principal. In 1910 she moved with her husband to Washington, D.C. When her husband died in 1925, Johnson supported her two sons by working temporary jobs until she was hired by the Department of Labor.

Johnson’s house at 1461 S Street NW, which came to be known as site of the S Street Salon, was an important meeting place for writers of the Harlem Renaissance in Washington, D.C. Johnson published her first poems in 1916 in the NAACP’s magazine Crisis. Her weekly column, “Homely Philosophy,” was published from 1926 to 1932. She wrote numerous plays, including Blue Blood (performed 1926) and Plumes (performed 1927). Johnson traveled widely in the 1920s to give poetry readings. In 1934 she lost her job in the Department of Labor and returned to supporting herself with temporary clerical work.

Johnson received an honorary doctorate in literature from Atlanta University in 1965.


(Source: Poetry Foundation)


MY LITTLE DREAMS

I’m folding up my little dreams

Within my heart to-night,

And praying I may soon forget

The torture of their sight.

For Time’s deft fingers scroll my brow

With fell relentless art—

I’m folding up my little dreams

To-night, within my heart!

THE HEART OF A WOMAN

THE HEART of a woman goes forth with the dawn,

As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,

Afar o’er life’s turrets and vales does it roam

In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.

The heart of a woman falls back with the night,

And enters some alien cage in its plight,

And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars

While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.

© 2019 by MJ Fievre