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The Ghost of Deacon Brown

James Weldon Johnson 1871 (Jacksonville) – 1938 (Wiscasset)

In a backwoods town
Lived Deacon Brown,
And he was a miser old;
He would trust no bank,
So he dug, and sank
In the ground a box of gold,
Down deep in the ground a box of gold.

He hid his gold,
As has been told,
He remembered that he did it;
But sad to say,
On the very next day,
He forgot just where he hid it:
To find his gold he tried and tried
Till he grew faint and sick, and died.

Then on each dark and gloomy night
A form in phosphorescent white,
A genuine hair-raising sight,
Would wander through the town.
And as it slowly roamed around,
With a spade it dug each foot of ground;
So the folks about
Said there was no doubt
'Twas the ghost of Deacon Brown.

Around the church
This Ghost would search,
And whenever it would see
The passers-by
Take wings and fly
It would laugh in ghostly glee,
Hee, hee!—it would laugh in ghostly glee.

And so the town
Went quickly down,
For they said that it was haunted;
And doors and gates,
So the story states,
Bore a notice, 'Tenants wanted.'

And the town is now for let,
But the ghost is digging yet.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:03 min read
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James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johnson was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. Johnson is best remembered for his leadership within the NAACP as well as for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and anthologies. He was also the first African-American professor at New York University. Later in life he was a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University. more…

All James Weldon Johnson poems | James Weldon Johnson Books

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