Home  »  The Book of American Negro Poetry  »  The Debt

James Weldon Johnson, ed. (1871–1938). The Book of American Negro Poetry. 1922.

The Debt

THIS is the debt I pay

Just for one riotous day,

Years of regret and grief,

Sorrow without relief.

Pay it I will to the end—

Until the grave, my friend,

Gives me a true release—

Gives me the clasp of peace.

Slight was the thing I bought,

Small was the debt I thought,

Poor was the loan at best—

God! but the interest!