poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day April 7, 2019. Read by the Academy of American Poets staff.
About this Poem 

“The Minister” is part a longer poem entitled “African Nights” and was published in Others for 1919: An Anthology of the New Verse (N. L. Brown, 1920).

The Minister

          I mastered pastoral theology, the Greek of the Apostles, and all the difficult subjects in a minister’s curriculum.
          I was as learned as any in this country when the Bishop ordained me.
          And I went to preside over Mount Moriah, largest flock in the Conference.
          I preached the Word as I felt it, I visited the sick and dying and comforted the afflicted in spirit.
          I loved my work because I loved my God.
          But I lost my charge to Sam Jenkins, who has not been to school four years in his life.
          I lost my charge because I could not make my congregation shout.   
          And my dollar money was small, very small.
          Sam Jenkins can tear a Bible to tatters and his congregation destroys the pews with their shouting and stamping.
          Sam Jenkins leads in the gift of raising dollar money.
          Such is religion.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 7, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 7, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Fenton Johnson

Fenton Johnson

Fenton Johnson was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1888. He was a forerunner of the Harlem Renaissance writers.

by this poet

poem
                    I
In the evening, love returns,
   Like a wand’rer ’cross the sea;
In the evening, love returns
   With a violet for me;
In the evening, life’s a song,
   And the fields are full of green;
All the stars are golden crowns,
   And the eye of God is keen.

                   II
In the evening,
poem

There is music in me, the music of a peasant people.
I wander through the levee, picking my banjo and singing my songs of the cabin and the field. At
   the Last Chance Saloon I am as welcome as the violets in March; there is always food and
   drink for me there, and the dimes of those who love