African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

James Weldon Johnson, "Girl of Fifteen" (1917)


    Girl of fifteen,
    I see you each morning from my window
    As you pass on your way to school.
    I do more than see, I watch you.
    I furtively draw the curtain aside.
    And my heart leaps through my eyes
    And follows you down the street;
    Leaving me behind, half-hid
    And wholly ashamed.

    What holds me back,
    Half-hid behind the curtains and wholly ashamed,
    But my forty years beyond your fifteen?

    Girl of fifteen, as you pass
    There passes, too, a lightning flash of time
    In which you lift those forty summers off my head,
    And take those forty winters out of my heart.

Published in Fifty Years and Other Poems, 1917