Sonnet

By James Weldon Johnson 1871–1938
My heart be brave, and do not falter so,   
Nor utter more that deep, despairing wail.   
Thy way is very dark and drear I know,   
But do not let thy strength and courage fail;   
For certain as the raven-winged night
Is followed by the bright and blushing morn,   
Thy coming morrow will be clear and bright;   
’Tis darkest when the night is furthest worn.   
Look up, and out, beyond, surrounding clouds,   
And do not in thine own gross darkness grope,   
Rise up, and casting off thy hind’ring shrouds,   
Cling thou to this, and ever inspiring hope:
   Tho’ thick the battle and tho’ fierce the fight,
   There is a power making for the right.

James Weldon Johnson, “Sonnet” from James Weldon Johnson: Complete Poems, edited by Sondra Kathryn Wilson. Copyright © 2000 by Sondra Kathryn
Wilson, Literary Executor of the Estate of James Weldon Johnson. Used by permission of Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. For online information about other Penguin Group (USA) books and authors, see www.penguin.com.

Source: Complete Poems (2000)

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Poet James Weldon Johnson 1871–1938

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Subjects Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 James Weldon Johnson

Biography

James Weldon Johnson distinguished himself equally as a man of letters and as a civil rights leader in the early decades of the twentieth century. A talented poet and novelist, Johnson is credited with bringing a new standard of artistry and realism to black literature in such works as The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man and God's Trombones. His pioneering studies of black poetry, music, and theater in the 1920s also helped . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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