A Dream

by Fenton Johnson

I had a dream last night, a wonderful dream.
I saw an angel riding in a chariot–
Oh, my honey, it was a lovely chariot,
Shining like the sun when noon is on the earth.
I saw his wings spreading from moon to earth;
I saw a crown of stars upon his forehead;
I saw his robes agleaming like his chariot.
I bowed my head and let the angel pass,
Because no man can look on Glory’s work;
I bowed my head and trembled in my limbs,
Because I stood on ground of holiness.
I heard the angel in the chariot singing:
            “Hallelujah early in the morning!
            I know my Redeemer liveth–
            How is it with your soul?”

I stood on ground of holiness and bowed;
The River Jordan flowed past my feet
As the angel soothed my soul with song,
A song of wonderful sweetness.
I stooped and washed my soul in Jordan’s stream
Ere my Redeemer came to take me home;
I stooped and washed my soul in waters pure
As the breathing of a new-born child
Lying on a mammy’s breast at night.
I looked and saw the angel descending
And a crown of stars was in his hand:
“Be ye not amazed, good friend,” he said,
“I bring a diadem of righteousness,
A covenant from the Lord of life,
That in the morning you will see
Eternal streets of gold and pearl aglow
And be with me in blessèd Paradise.”

The vision faded. I awoke and heard
A mocking-bird upon my window-sill.

From “Two Negro Spirituals,” originally published in Poetry magazine (December 1921).