Background: Johnson was the youngest poet associated with the Harlem Renaissance. She came to New York in 1926, moving into the only mid-Manhattan apartment that allowed black tenants. There she met another tenant, Zora Neale Hurston, and the two quickly became friends.
Johnson's poetry is marked by an often lovely lyricism in which a genteel sensuality and a usually muted expression of a racial pride are blended.
Remember not the promises we made
in this same garden many moons ago.
You must forget them. I would have it so.
Old vows are like flowers as they fade
and vaguely vanish into feeble death.
There is no reason why your hands should clutch
At pretty yesterdays. There is not much
Of beauty in me now. And though my breath
Is quick, my body sentient, my heart
Attuned to romance as before, you must
Not, through mistaken chivalry, pretend
To love me still. There is no mortal art
Can overcome Time's deep, corroding rust.
Let Love's beginning expiate Love's end.