James Weldon Johnson

(1871-1938 / Florida/United States)

The Creation


And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I'm lonely--
I'll make me a world.

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That's good!

Then God reached out and took the light in his hands,
And God rolled the light around in his hands
Until he made the sun;
And he set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said: That's good!

Then God himself stepped down--
And the sun was on his right hand,
And the moon was on his left;
The stars were clustered about his head,
And the earth was under his feet.
And God walked, and where he trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then he stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And he spat out the seven seas--
He batted his eyes, and the lightnings flashed--
He clapped his hands, and the thunders rolled--
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around his shoulder.

Then God raised his arm and he waved his hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And he said: Bring forth! Bring forth!
And quicker than God could drop his hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said: That's good!

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I'm lonely still.

Then God sat down--
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I'll make me a man!

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image;

Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen.Amen.

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

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Comments about this poem (The Creation by James Weldon Johnson )

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  • Tony B. Nelson (11/18/2012 4:50:00 PM)

    While attending Howard High School, Georgetown, SC- Class of '77, Our Junior Class English Teacher, Mrs. L. Besselieu was adament about Her Students reciting Mr. Weldon's Creation in order to develop skills necessary for personal / professional development - I must admit at the time it was not something I wanted to partake in during my Jr. year; however, everyone recited the Creation except a few students including me and later learned a valuable lesson - Thanks Mrs. Besselieu it paid off - (Report) Reply

  • Jimmie Jo Hixon (9/24/2012 4:15:00 AM)

    I attended Austin High School, Chicago, Il from 1952-1956 and was in the choir four years. One of our songs was The Creation and somehow it was running through my mind this morning. I also read this poem The Creation as part of a speech in English Class. I had goosebumps as I found and read The Creation here just now. This poem is a 10! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Chime Justice Ndubuisi (5/1/2012 12:07:00 PM)

    This poem is number 400 of 500 poems. But of all 300+ i've read, i was moved to make a comment on this one alone! I like it so much, it reminds me of God's greatness. I think it deserves a 10 points. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Delores Jackson (4/20/2011 11:57:00 AM)

    I have known this poem for most of my life. I have even recited this poem - the 1st time I did; I mistakenly left out a whole verse. I made sure that did not happen again. I rate this poem much higher than what is allowed...so I settle for the 10! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Evelyn Morgan (5/4/2009 4:55:00 AM)

    I heard this poem read on an album in junior high school. I marvelled then at the
    power of the human voice in telling an awesome story. This is a poem meant to
    be read aloud. I didn't start to write my own poetry until late in my twenties but
    poems like this are what planted that seed in my mind. I would rate this poem
    a ten and from me, that is a high rating indeed. I am very choosy in what I read
    and if I read something wonderful, it stays with me forever. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Deloris Holley (12/30/2008 6:06:00 PM)

    I think the poem is awesome when I was a child at my church a family member would act out the creation and it was one mother of the church God rest here soul she would be elated about it and I as a child would be as well I am almost 40 and I am thinking about acting it out as well.I give the poem a 10 (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Michael Gale (10/26/2006 8:31:00 PM)

    Grrrreeeeaat poem. Gave it a ten. People can rate this poem but cannot even leave a comment? Come on people. What gives?
    God bless all poets-MJG. (Report) Reply

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