Known as a poet of the Harlem Renaissance, Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880-1966) wrote four collections of poetry: The Heart of a Woman (1918), Bronze (1922), An Autumn Love Cycle (1928), and Share My World (1962). However, she was more than a poet–she wrote plays as well as a weekly column (“Homely Philosophy”)–and she did not live in Harlem or even in New York. She was born in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from Atlanta University Normal College, study at Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland College of Music, and work as a teacher and assistant principal, she moved to Washington, DC with her husband in 1910. When he died in 1925, she had to support their two sons on her own. For a number of years, she worked at the Department of Labor, where she received an appointment as Commissioner of Conciliation under President Coolidge. Her house at 1461 S St. NW came to be known as the S Street Salon. There, for 40 years, she gathered every Saturday with friends and prominent authors of the New Negro Movement or Harlem Renaissance to discuss writing, politics, and life. Among the many notable participants were Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Alain Locke, W.E.B. Du Bois, William Stanley Braithwaite, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Angelina Weld Grimké, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and Zora Neale Hurston.
Let Me Not Hate
by Georgia Douglas Johnson
Let me not hate, although the bruising world decries
Gives me no quarter, hounds me while I sleep;
Would snuff the candles of my soul and sear my inmost
Let me not hate, though girt by vipers, green and hissing
through the dark;
I fain must love. God help me keep the altar-gleams
that flicker wearily, anon,
On down the world’s grim night!
From Bronze (1922), by Georgia Douglas Johnson. The featured image above is St. George and the Dragon (c. 1909-1910), by Odilon Redon, from the Barnes Collection.