ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

James Weldon Johnson's "Sence You Went Away"

Updated on October 24, 2017
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

James Weldon Johnson

Source

Introduction and Text of Poem, "Sence You Went Away"

James Weldon Johnson's "Sence You Went Away" creates a speaker/singer who bemoans the loss of a loved one. The poem/song consists of four stanzas, each with the rime scheme AAAB, wherein the final line constitutes the refrain in which the speaker reveals the reason for his melancholy.

(Please note: The incorrect spelling, "rhyme," was erroneously introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson. For my explanation for using only the correct form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.")

Sence You Went Away

Seems lak to me de stars don't shine so bright,
Seems lak to me de sun done loss his light,
Seems lak to me der's nothin' goin' right,
Sence you went away.

Seems lak to me de sky ain't half so blue,
Seems lak to me dat eve'ything wants you,
Seems lak to me I don't know what to do,
Sence you went away.

Seems lak to me dat eve'ything is wrong,
Seems lak to me de day's jes twice ez long,
Seems lak to me de bird's forgot his song,
Sence you went away.

Seems lak to me I jes can't he’p but sigh,
Seems lak to me ma th’oat keeps gittin’ dry,
Seems lak to me a tear stays in ma eye,
Sence you went away.

Darryl Taylor singing musical rendition of Johnson's "Sence You Went Away"

Commentary

First Stanza: "Seems lak to me de stars don't shine so bright"

The speaker expresses his sorrow by reporting that both the sun and stars do not seem to be shedding light now, because "you went away." The reader/listener learns nothing about the person who has gone away, only that the speaker's life has been adversely affected by the loved one's absence.

Not only do the speaker's eyes seem no longer to perceive light, but he also feels that nothing in his life is "goin' right." He makes it clear that he is not asserting that the world itself has changed; he is merely revealing how things "seem" to him as he repeats throughout the poem, "seems lak to me," that is, "seems like to me."

Second Stanza: "Seems lak to me de sky ain't half so blue"

The absence of sun and starlight affect the shade of the blue sky, which is now only "half so blue." Everything reminds him that he is missing his beloved because "Seems lak to me dat ev'ything wants you." Of course, his exaggeration merely underscores how desperately he desires the return of his missing beloved.

Third Stanza: "Seems lak to me dat ev'ything is wrong"

Again, the speaker asserts that nothing seems right for him anymore, that "ev'ything is wrong." And he reveals that time seems to lag because of his sorrow: "Seems lak to me de day's jes twice es long" or "seems like to me the day's just twice as long."

Nature in the form of singing birds is lost on him, because he feels that "de bird's forgot his song." His melancholy colors all of his senses, especially seeing and hearing. Life has lost its luster, light has escaped him, and even pleasant sounds are no longer detectable.

Fourth Stanza: "Seems lak to me I jes can't he'p but sigh"

Finally, the speaker reveals his own behavior has been influenced by the sad fact that "you went away." He can't stop sighing, and "ma th'oat keeps gittin' dry," while "a tear stays in ma eye." His physical functions are out of kilter: what needs to be wet is dry, and what needs to be dry is wet.

The speaker's world has transformed into a melancholy fog of sorrow and disorientation—all because his beloved has gone away.

Kris Delmhorst singing her version of Johnson's "Sence You Went Away"

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)