Biographical Poetry: Frank Marshall Davis

Posted on June 20, 2011


“Giles Johnson, Ph.D.” is a poem written by Frank Marshall Davis. It is a poetic biography that gives the reader a unique insight to the world of Giles Johnson, while evoking critical thinking. The introspection this piece promotes is remarkable. It makes me feel somewhat self-conscious and forces me to reevaluate some of my academic choices. Davis’ piece is so thought provoking I’m not even sure what to say. I know it moves me, I feel it, and I can’t help but be drawn into it. It saddens me, and at the same time inspires me to humbly touch the world so that neither I nor anyone I come in contact with starves.

Giles Johnson, Ph.D.

Giles Johnson

had four college degrees

knew the whyfore of this

the wherefore of that

could orate in Latin

or cuss in Greek

and, having learned such tings

he died of starvation

because he wouldn’t teach

and he couldn’t porter.


Pride most definitely goes before destruction. Don’t let it be you. But let the literary lessons of this piece belong to you: So few words, and yet so complete a picture. What type of emotions can you evoke, what persona can you create? Will readers feel sympathetic, fearful, connected? Try it out!