Treasure Island

James Weldon Johnson

(1871-1938 / Florida/United States)

Quotations

  • ''It is from the blues that all that may be called American music derives its most distinctive character.''
    James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), U.S. author, poet. Black Manhattan, ch. 11 (1930).
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  • ''Lift every voice and sing till earth and heaven ring,
    ring with the harmonies of liberty.
    Let our rejoicing rise high as the listening skies;
    Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.''
    James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), African-American hymn-writer. Published in The Hymnal (1982). "Lift every voice and sing," l. 1-4, Edward B. Marks Music Corporation (1921). Considered the "African-American National Anthem."
  • ''You sang far better than you knew; the songs
    That for your listeners' hungry hearts sufficed
    Still live,—but more than this to you belongs:
    You sang a race from wood and stone to Christ.''
    James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), U.S. author. O Black and Unknown Bards (l. 45-48). . . Poetry of Black America, The; Anthology of the 20th Century. Arnold Adoff, ed. (1973) Harper & Row.
  • ''Whose starward eye
    Saw chariot "swing low"? And who was he
    That breathed that comforting, melodic sigh,
    "Nobody knows de trouble I see"?''
    James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), U.S. author. O Black and Unknown Bards (l. 13-16). . . Poetry of Black America, The; Anthology of the 20th Century. Arnold Adoff, ed. (1973) Harper & Row.
  • ''O black and unknown bards of long ago, How came your lips to touch the sacred fire?''
    James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), U.S. author, poet. "O Black and Unknown Bards," st. 1 (written c. 1907), publ. In Fifty Years and Other Poems (1917). Opening lines.
  • ''And God stepped out on space,
    And He looked around and said,
    "I'm lonely—
    I'll make me a world."''
    James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), U.S. author. The Creation (l. 1-4). . . Poetry of Black America, The; Anthology of the 20th Century. Arnold Adoff, ed. (1973) Harper & Row.
  • ''So God stepped over to the edge of the world
    And He spat out the seven seas;
    He batted His eyes, and the lightnings flashed;
    He clapped His hands, and the thunders rolled;
    And the waters above the earth came down,
    The cooling waters came down.''
    James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), U.S. author. The Creation (l. 36-41). . . Poetry of Black America, The; Anthology of the 20th Century. Arnold Adoff, ed. (1973) Harper & Row.
  • ''This Great God,
    Like a mammy bending over her baby,
    Kneeled down in the dust
    Toiling over a lump of clay
    Till He shaped it in His own image;''
    James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), U.S. author. The Creation (l. 84-88). . . Poetry of Black America, The; Anthology of the 20th Century. Arnold Adoff, ed. (1973) Harper & Row.
  • ''The glory of the day was in her face,
    The beauty of the night was in her eyes.''
    James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), U.S. author. The Glory of the Day Was in Her Face (l. 1-2). . . Poetry of Black America, The; Anthology of the 20th Century. Arnold Adoff, ed. (1973) Harper & Row.
  • ''Young man—Young man—Your arm's too short to box with God.''
    James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), U.S. author, poet. The Prodigal Son, God's Trombones (1927).

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The Creation

And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I'm lonely--
I'll make me a world.

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

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