Eugenia W. Collier: On Georgia Douglas Johnson's Poetry

In 1918, she published The Heart of a Woman, poems exploring themes especially meaningful to women. With this volume, Johnson became the first widely recognized African-American woman poet since Frances E. W. Harper. The Heart of a Woman is about love, longing, disillusionment, and loneliness. The poems reflect frustration with the strictures of women's prescribed roles. In 1922, she published a second volume, Bronze, which concerned racial themes.

In 1928, she published a volume of poems, An Autumn Love Cycle, which returned to her earlier explorations of feminine themes. This volume is considered her best because of its mature treatment of the theme of romantic love and because of its skillful use of form. Her much-anthologized "I Want to Die While You Love Me" is in this volume.

Johnson continued to write, but publication became increasingly difficult. In 1962, she published Share My World, poems containing the wisdom culled from a lifetime of experience. She remained active into her eighties, until she died suddenly of a stroke in 1966. Because her papers were not saved, much of her work was lost.

Georgia Douglas Johnson's poems are skillfully crafted lyrics cast in traditional forms. They are, for the most part, gentle and delicate, using soft consonants and long, low vowels. Their realm is emotion, often sadness and disappointment, but sometimes fulfillment, strength, and spiritual triumph. Yet Johnson herself was never otherworldly. She remained in the forefront of political and social events of her time. Her plays were moving portrayals of the tragic impact of racism upon African Americans. Frequent themes in both her poetry and drama are the alienation and dilemmas of the person of mixed blood and the goal of integration into the American mainstream.


Title Eugenia W. Collier: On Georgia Douglas Johnson's Poetry Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Cathy N. Davidson Criticism Target Georgia Douglas Johnson
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 09 Jun 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication The Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing in the United States
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