Poem 250 ± February 9, 2016

James Weldon Johnson
Prayer at Sunrise

Now thou art risen, and thy day begun.
How shrink the shrouding mists before thy face,
As up thou spring’st to thy diurnal race!
How darkness chases darkness to the west,
As shades of light on light rise radiant from thy crest!
For thee, great source of strength, emblem of might,
In hours of darkest gloom there is no night.
Thou shinest on though clouds hide thee from sight,
And through each break thou sendest down thy light.

O greater Maker of this Thy great sun,
Give me the strength this one day’s race to run,
Fill me with light, fill me with sun-like strength,
Fill me with joy to rob the day its length.
Light from within, light that will outward shine,
Strength to make strong some weaker heart than mine,
Joy to make glad each soul that feels its touch;
Great Father of the sun, I ask this much.


james-weldonJames Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) is best remembered for his leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During the Harlem Renaissance, Johnson established his reputation as a writer of poems and novels and an anthologist of black spirituals. During the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, Johnson he served as US consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua. In 1934 he became the first African-American professor to be hired at New York University. Later in life he was a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University.

This poem is in the public domain.