Georgia Johnson Douglas: “Black Woman,” “Foredoom,” and “The Heart of a Woman”


Black Woman

Don’t knock at my door, little child,
….I cannot let you in,
You know not what a world this is
….Of cruelty and sin.
Wait in the still eternity
….Until I come to you,
The world is cruel, cruel, child,
….I cannot let you in!
Don’t knock at my heart, little one,
….I cannot bear the pain
Of turning deaf-ear to your call
….Time and time again!
You do not know the monster men
….Inhabiting the earth,
Be still, be still, my precious child,
….I must not give you birth!




Her life was dwarfed, and wed to blight,
Her very days were shades of night,
Her every dream was born entombed,
Her soul, a bud,—that never bloomed.



The Heart of a Woman

The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,
Afar o’er life’s turrets and vales does it roam
In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.

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.


From The Heart of a Woman and Other Poems (The Cornhill Company 1918). These poems are in the public domain.


A member of the Harlem Renaissance, Georgia Douglas Johnson wrote plays, songs, and four books of poetry: The Heart of a Woman (1918), Bronze  (1922), An Autumn Love Cycle (1928), and Share My World (1962). Johnson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to parents of African American, Native American, and English descent. After graduating from Atlanta University Normal College, she studied music at the Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland College of Music. Johnson published her first poems in 1916 in the NAACP’s magazine, Crisis and in the 1920s gave many poetry readings. She taught and worked as an assistant principal in Washington, D.C. where her home was the site of literary salons featuring writers and artists including Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Angelina Grimke, W.E.B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Mary Burrill, and Anne Spencer. After her husband died in 1925, Johnson supported their two sons by working temporary jobs until she was hired by the Department of Labor. She also wrote a syndicated weekly newspaper column, “Homely Philosophy,” from 1926 to 1932.

In 1934 Johnson lost her job and had to support herself with temporary work. Although she struggled with poverty and found it hard to find publishers for her work, she put both sons through college and received an honorary doctorate in literature from Atlanta University in 1965. She died the following year, and much of her unpublished work was lost. [Sources: www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/georgia-douglas-johnson and www.thoughtco.com/georgia-douglas-johnson-3529263 ]


Start the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.