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Poem by James Weldon Johnson


The Temptress


Old Devil, when you come with horns and tail,
With diabolic grin and crafty leer;
I say, such bogey-man devices wholly fail
To waken in my heart a single fear.

But when you wear a form I know so well,
A form so human, yet so near divine;
'Tis then I fall beneath the magic of your spell,
'Tis then I know the vantage is not mine.

Ah! when you take your horns from off your head,
And soft and fragrant hair is in their place;
I must admit I fear the tangled path I tread
When that dear head is laid against my face.

And at what time you change your baleful eyes
For stars that melt into the gloom of night,
All of my courage, my dear fellow, quickly flies;
I know my chance is slim to win the fight.

And when, instead of charging down to wreck
Me on a red-hot pitchfork in your hand,
You throw a pair of slender arms about my neck,
I dare not trust the ground on which I stand.

Whene'er in place of using patent wile,
Or trying to frighten me with horrid grin,
You tempt me with two crimson lips curved in a smile;
Old Devil, I must really own, you win.



James Weldon Johnson


James Weldon Johnson's other poems:
  1. Venus in a Garden
  2. Nobody's Lookin' But de Owl and de Moon
  3. Down by the Carib Sea. 4. The Lottery Girl
  4. The White Witch
  5. A Plantation Bacchanal


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