James Weldon Johnson

(1871-1938 / Florida/United States)

The Creation - Poem by James Weldon Johnson

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.

Comments about The Creation by James Weldon Johnson

  • (6/9/2018 2:00:00 PM)

    Learned many of his poems when I was in high school, and for church. I still remember. I am 82 years old now. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (6/2/2018 4:33:00 AM)

    Memorized in the 2nd grade. We ea ch had a line to say and then recited most together. We wore our white shirts with huge red bow ties and took our show to several churches! Simpler times. (Report) Reply

  • (5/9/2018 2:23:00 PM)

    How of I print a copy of this poem? (Report) Reply

  • (3/24/2018 9:27:00 AM)

    Did James Weldon Johnson pen “alternate versions” of this poem? I have seen a version which replaced God’s gender to that of female. Is that legal? It is a great American work of art, boldly nuanced with purpose! (Report) Reply

  • Frederick Kesner (3/8/2018 10:11:00 PM)

    Had to memorise this in second grade which was then recited aloud before the school assembly. Curious to find it again. (Report) Reply

  • (3/3/2018 8:40:00 AM)

    Hopeless silly poem (Report) Reply

  • (2/21/2018 12:29:00 PM)

    Feb 21,2018** This Is a great poem for people of all ages to read! There is so much hurting in this world today and Young Man and Woman don't believe in there self😕 Maybe if a young people read this they will see put his hands on and made good! ☺😊☺😊! (Report) Reply

  • (2/21/2018 12:28:00 PM)

    Feb 21,2018** This Is a great poem for people of all ages to read! There is so much hurting in this world today and Young Man and Woman don't believe in there self😕 Maybe if a young people read this they will see put his hands on and made good! ☺😊☺😊! (Report) Reply

  • (2/10/2018 4:33:00 PM)

    I read it aloud to my husband, to share its beauty. When I reached the last stanzas I was fighting tears - and losing. The blending of God's majesty with his tenderness is so apt. (Report) Reply

  • (2/1/2018 3:35:00 PM)

    In the Biblical Creation Story and Johnson's Creation Poem, God Consciousness creates that wich is good. And, in both, the Creation of Man is the Image of Very Good/Great Conciousness. The Biblical Creation Story includes the Fall of Man; the knowlege of Good and Evil. James Weldon Johnson's poem does not. Wow, no DEvil.
    It is an amazingly great poem!
    (Report) Reply

  • (12/28/2017 9:23:00 PM)

    Had to learn this wonderful poem many, many years in elementary school. Now, as senior citizen, it still is a soul
    stirring experience to read The Creation by James Weldon Johnson.
    (Report) Reply

  • (12/25/2017 10:26:00 AM)

    Choral reading for our high school class of 58 years ago. It often comes to mind. (Report) Reply

  • Glen Kappy (12/20/2017 9:28:00 AM)

    Indeed a great and justly famous poem. Try this: Catch the warmth in this version of creation, then read it into the accounts of Genesis 1 and 2. -GK (Report) Reply

  • (2/3/2017 5:17:00 AM)

    Beautiful, beautiful piece of poetry! (Report) Reply

    Joe Baines (5/26/2017 5:38:00 AM)

    kys, doone you fag

  • (6/2/2015 8:19:00 PM)

    I recited this poem close to 50 years ago and it still gives me a great feeling reading it again today. This poem is still a 10 point plus plus plus (Report) Reply

  • (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

  • (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

  • 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

  • (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

  • (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

Read all 23 comments »

# 262 poem on top 500 Poems

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: river, god, moon, lonely, sun, light, rainbow, baby, world, sea, sky, tree, red, green, night, star, water, fishing, flower, running

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

[Report Error]