Georgia Douglas Johnson

To John Brown

Volume 16:1, Winter 2015
The Sonnet Issue

To John Brown

We lift a song to you across the day
Which bears through travailing the seed you spread
In terror’s morning, flung with fingers red
In blood of tyrants, who debarred the way
To Freedom’s dawning. Hearken to the lay
Chanted by dusky millions, soft and mellow-keyed,
In minor measure, Martyr of the Freed,
A song of memory across the day.

Truth cannot perish though the earth erase
The royal signals, leaving not a trace,
And time still burgeoneth the fertile seed,
Though he is crucified who wrought the deed:
O Alleghanies, fold him to your breast
Until the judgment! Sentinel his rest!


Georgia Douglas Johnson (September 10, 1880? - May 14, 1966) was one of the best-published women writers of the Harlem Renaissance era. She published four books of poems: The Heart of a Woman (1918), Bronze (1922), An Autumn Love Cycle (1928), and Share My World (1962). In addition, she wrote plays, song lyrics, and journalism. She worked for the DC Public Schools and the US Department of Labor, and her newspaper column, "Homely Philosophy," was syndicated to twenty newspapers between 1926 and 1932. After her husband's death in 1925, she raised two sons on her own. A gifted organizer, a generous friend, a mentor to many, Johnson hosted weekly salons in her home at 1461 S Street NW in DC from 1921 to approximately 1928; she continued hosting gatherings more sporadically through the Great Depression and into the early 1940s. To read more about Georgia Douglas Johnson: Valerie Jean on Georgia Douglas Johnson: Memorial Issue