An Explanation

By James Weldon Johnson 1871–1938
Look heah! ’Splain to me de reason   
Why you said to Squire Lee,
Der wuz twelve ole chicken thieves   
In dis heah town, includin’ me.   
Ef he tole you dat, my brudder,   
He said sump’n dat warn’t true;   
W’at I said wuz dis, dat der wuz   
Twelve, widout includin’ you.

Oh! . . . !—

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 Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire

 James Weldon Johnson


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 Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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