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Thursday, September 10, 2009

A GREAT POET WAS BORN ON THIS DAY, GEORGIA DOUGLAS JOHNSON

"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."
--Georgia Douglas Johnson

Listen up. September 10 is the date that poet and producer Georgia Douglas Johnson. Daughter of a wealthy Englishman, Johnson was born in Marietta, GA. She attended Atlanta University, studied music at Oberlin college in Ohio.

In 1903, Douglas, her husband-- Henry Johnson-- and two sons moved to Washington D.C. where her home became the site of a weekly gathering of young black writers and artists. It became known as the "S Street Salon," a place for writers came to showcase their new work. These young and ambitious authors included Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Jean Toomer, MaryP. Burrill, and Angelina Weld Grimke among others.



Despite working full time, Johnson remained involved with produced literary works, maintained a column for more than 20 weekly newspapers, edited books, wrote 40 plays and more than 39 songs.
And she continued to write very good poetry. As a writer, she was perhaps best know for her poem, "I Want to Die While You Love Me," which was read at her funeral. She died in May of 1966.
*******************************************************

I want to die while you love me

    I want to die while you love me,
    While yet you hold me fair,
    While laughter lies upon my lips
    And lights are in my hair.

    I want to die while you love me,
    And bear to that still bed
    Your kisses turbulent, unspent,
    To warm me when I'm dead.

    I want to die while you love me
    Oh, who would care to live
    Till love has nothing more to ask
    And nothing more to give!

    I want to die while you love me
    And never, never see
    The glory of this perfect day
    Grow dim or cease to be.

    Georgia Douglas Johnson

Reference:

The Oxford Companion to African American Literature.
Ed. William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris. Oxford University Press Copyright © 1997

9 comments:

.::STELLA*DELLA::. said...

WHOA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GEORGIA BETTER WRITE! NOW THATS WHAT IM TALKIN ABOUT MS THING!

Corey said...

Hey! to-the-daddy!
Have you ever heard Alfre Woodard
read I Want To Die While You Love
Me? Awesome!

Vigilante said...

Ohhhhhh......

MacDaddy said...

Corey: Good to hear from you. Have I heard of Alfre Woodard? The Alfre I know is a well-known and very gifted actress. I know she's won a bunch of acting awards, mostly on tv series.

She's also a committed social activist. She co-founded an organization to promote South African films, but I can't remember its name. And she was very active in Obama's presidential campaign and I heard she raised a lot of money for him.

Stella: Yes@ I just can't believe how great many of these older poets were.

Anonymous said...

You seem to favor female poets. Who is your favorite and why? (no this isn't a 10 point question...just curious since you are so well read!) xo

Anonymous said...

Breathtaking, reaching deep down to gut, and straight up to the soul. Why don't more people know of her? Thanks!

Corey said...

Hey! I know I'm getting back to this one LATE, but .......

I KNOW you've heard of Alfre!
What I asked was if you've ever heard her READ Georgia Douglas Johnson's I WANT TO DIE WHILE YOU LOVE ME? It's a simple rendering, but infused with just enough pizazz to make it AWESOME!

MacDaddy said...

Corey: No, I've never heard of her rendering of the poem? I'll check my library downtown. They have lots of music and poetry on records and tapes. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

i ate an eggroll today