Death Poems: Go Down, Death - Poem by James Weldon Johnson

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Go Down, Death - Poem by James Weldon Johnson

Weep not, weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Heart-broken husband--weep no more;
Grief-stricken son--weep no more;
Left-lonesome daughter --weep no more;
She only just gone home.

Day before yesterday morning,
God was looking down from his great, high heaven,
Looking down on all his children,
And his eye fell of Sister Caroline,
Tossing on her bed of pain.
And God's big heart was touched with pity,
With the everlasting pity.

And God sat back on his throne,
And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand:
Call me Death!
And that tall, bright angel cried in a voice
That broke like a clap of thunder:
Call Death!--Call Death!
And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven
Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,
Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.

And Death heard the summons,
And he leaped on his fastest horse,
Pale as a sheet in the moonlight.
Up the golden street Death galloped,
And the hooves of his horses struck fire from the gold,
But they didn't make no sound.
Up Death rode to the Great White Throne,
And waited for God's command.

And God said: Go down, Death, go down,
Go down to Savannah, Georgia,
Down in Yamacraw,
And find Sister Caroline.
She's borne the burden and heat of the day,
She's labored long in my vineyard,
And she's tired--
She's weary--
Do down, Death, and bring her to me.

And Death didn't say a word,
But he loosed the reins on his pale, white horse,
And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides,
And out and down he rode,
Through heaven's pearly gates,
Past suns and moons and stars;
on Death rode,
Leaving the lightning's flash behind;
Straight down he came.

While we were watching round her bed,
She turned her eyes and looked away,
She saw what we couldn't see;
She saw Old Death.She saw Old Death
Coming like a falling star.
But Death didn't frighten Sister Caroline;
He looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: I'm going home,
And she smiled and closed her eyes.

And Death took her up like a baby,
And she lay in his icy arms,
But she didn't feel no chill.
And death began to ride again--
Up beyond the evening star,
Into the glittering light of glory,
On to the Great White Throne.
And there he laid Sister Caroline
On the loving breast of Jesus.

And Jesus took his own hand and wiped away her tears,
And he smoothed the furrows from her face,
And the angels sang a little song,
And Jesus rocked her in his arms,
And kept a-saying: Take your rest,
Take your rest.

Weep not--weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.


Comments about Go Down, Death by James Weldon Johnson

  • Rookie Nona C (5/26/2018 9:06:00 AM)

    What a beautiful poem. I heard this for the first time yesterday 05/25/2018 at a memorial service for a very special person. (Report) Reply

    3 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Rookie - 0 Points Carlos Hargraves (6/5/2017 7:05:00 AM)

    This has always been my favorite poem by James Weldon Johnson... (Report) Reply

    4 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Rookie - 38 Points Levi Mcleod (5/1/2017 8:32:00 PM)

    this was an amazing poem. (Report) Reply

    5 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Silver Star - 4,284 Points Ovi Odiete (9/29/2015 5:50:00 AM)

    Beautiful poetry and description.... (Report) Reply

    5 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Rookie Grave Digger (1/3/2008 4:47:00 AM)

    This is one of my favorite poems, very strong, first heard it recited by Wintley Phipps, , very powerful (Report) Reply

    9 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
Death Poems
  1. 1. Let Me Die A Youngman's Death
    Roger McGough
  2. 2. And Death Shall Have No Dominion
    Dylan Thomas
  3. 3. Death Is Nothing At All
    Henry Scott Holland
  4. 4. Death Be Not Proud
    John Donne
  5. 5. Because I Could Not Stop For Death
    Emily Dickinson
  6. 6. Nothing But Death
    Pablo Neruda
  7. 7. A Dream Of Death
    William Butler Yeats
  8. 8. A Refusal To Mourn The Death, By Fire, O..
    Dylan Thomas
  9. 9. Father Death Blues
    Allen Ginsberg
  10. 10. A Poet's Death Is His Life Iv
    Khalil Gibran
  11. 11. An Irish Airman Forsees His Death
    William Butler Yeats
  12. 12. Death Wants More Death
    Charles Bukowski
  13. 13. The Death Of The Ball Turret Gunner
    Randall Jarrell
  14. 14. Death
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  15. 15. A Death Blow Is A Life Blow To Some
    Emily Dickinson
  16. 16. Death Xxvii
    Khalil Gibran
  17. 17. The Beauty Of Death Xiv
    Khalil Gibran
  18. 18. A City's Death By Fire
    Derek Walcott
  19. 19. Holy Sonnet X: Death Be Not Proud
    John Donne
  20. 20. Gacela Of The Dark Death
    Federico García Lorca
  21. 21. After Death
    Sara Teasdale
  22. 22. Death Leaves Us Homesick, Who Behind
    Emily Dickinson
  23. 23. A Funeral Poem On The Death Of C. E. An ..
    Phillis Wheatley
  24. 24. A Thought For A Lonely Death-Bed
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  25. 25. First Death In Nova Scotia
    Elizabeth Bishop
  26. 26. On The Death Of A Young Lady Of Five Yea..
    Phillis Wheatley
  27. 27. A Ballad Of Death
    Algernon Charles Swinburne
  28. 28. Go Down, Death
    James Weldon Johnson
  29. 29. The Death Of Joy Gardner
    Benjamin Zephaniah
  30. 30. I Have A Rendezvous With Death
    Alan Seeger
  31. 31. The Death Of The Hired Man
    Robert Frost
  32. 32. Death Fugue
    Paul Celan
  33. 33. Death &Amp; Fame
    Allen Ginsberg
  34. 34. On Death
    Anne Killigrew
  35. 35. Love &Amp; Fame &Amp; Death
    Charles Bukowski
  36. 36. On The Death Of Anne Brontë
    Charlotte Brontë
  37. 37. If Death Is Kind
    Sara Teasdale
  38. 38. For The Anniversary Of My Death
    William Stanley Merwin
  39. 39. Fugue Of Death
    Paul Celan
  40. 40. On The Death Of That Most Excellent Lady,
    Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
  41. 41. A Satirical Elegy On The Death Of A Late..
    Jonathan Swift
  42. 42. Death
    Heinrich Heine
  43. 43. As At Thy Portals Also Death
    Walt Whitman
  44. 44. Death Stands Above Me, Whispering Low
    Walter Savage Landor
  45. 45. An Elegy On The Death Of Kenneth Patchen
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  46. 46. On Hearing Of A Death
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  47. 47. A Death-Bed
    Rudyard Kipling
  48. 48. Absence Disembodies—so Does Death
    Emily Dickinson
  49. 49. On The Death Of A Youn Gentleman
    Phillis Wheatley
  50. 50. All But Death, Can Be Adjusted
    Emily Dickinson

Death Poems

  1. Death Be Not Proud

    Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe, For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow, Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee. From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee doe goe, Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie. Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell, And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well, And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then? One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally, And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

  2. Let Me Die A Youngman's Death

    Let me die a youngman's death not a clean and inbetween the sheets holywater death not a famous-last-words peaceful out of breath death When I'm 73 and in constant good tumour may I be mown down at dawn by a bright red sports car on my way home from an allnight party Or when I'm 91 with silver hair and sitting in a barber's chair may rival gangsters with hamfisted tommyguns burst in and give me a short back and insides Or when I'm 104 and banned from the Cavern may my mistress catching me in bed with her daughter and fearing for her son cut me up into little pieces and throw away every piece but one Let me die a youngman's death not a free from sin tiptoe in candle wax and waning death not a curtains drawn by angels borne 'what a nice way to go' death

  3. And Death Shall Have No Dominion

    And death shall have no dominion. Dead man naked they shall be one With the man in the wind and the west moon; When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone, They shall have stars at elbow and foot; Though they go mad they shall be sane, Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again; Though lovers be lost love shall not; And death shall have no dominion. And death shall have no dominion. Under the windings of the sea They lying long shall not die windily; Twisting on racks when sinews give way, Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break; Faith in their hands shall snap in two, And the unicorn evils run them through; Split all ends up they shan't crack; And death shall have no dominion. And death shall have no dominion. No more may gulls cry at their ears Or waves break loud on the seashores; Where blew a flower may a flower no more Lift its head to the blows of the rain; Though they be mad and dead as nails, Heads of the characters hammer through daisies; Break in the sun till the sun breaks down, And death shall have no dominion.

  4. Because I Could Not Stop For Death

    Because I could not stop for Death- He kindly stopped for me- The Carriage held but just Ourselves- And Immortality. We slowly drove- He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility- We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess- in the Ring- We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain- We passed the Setting Sun- Or rather- He passed us- The Dews drew quivering and chill- For only Gossamer, my Gown- My Tippet- only Tulle- We paused before a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground- The Roof was scarcely visible- The Cornice- in the Ground- Since then- 'tis Centuries- and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads Were toward Eternity-

  5. Death Is Nothing At All

    Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away to the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, That, we still are. Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effect. Without the trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same that it ever was. There is absolute unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you. For an interval. Somewhere. Very near. Just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.

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