Jean Toomer was an American poet and novelist and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance. His first book Cane is considered by many as his most significant.
Life and Career
Toomer was born Nathan Eugene Pinchback Toomer in Washington, D.C. His father was a prosperous farmer, originally born into slavery in Hancock County, Georgia. Nina Pinchback was also of mixed ethnic descent. Her father was Louisiana Governor P. B. S. Pinchback, the first African American to become governor of a U.S. state. (Both of Toomer's maternal grandparents had white fathers. Pinchback's father was a planter and his mother was a mulatto slave who was freed before ... more »
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Jean Toomer Poems
To those fixed on white, White is white, To those fixed on black, It is the same,
Her Lips Are Copper Wire
whisper of yellow globes gleaming on lamp-posts that sway like bootleg licker drinkers in the fog
A Certain Man
A certain man wishes to be a prince Of this earth; he also wants to be A saint and master of the being-world. Conscience cannot exist in the first:
A Portrait in Georgia
Hair-braided chestnut, coiled like a lyncher's rope, Eyes-fagots, Lips-old scars, or the first red blisters,
Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones Are sharpening scythes. I see them place the hones In their hip-pockets as a thing that's done, And start their silent swinging, one by one.
There is a natty kind of mind That slicks its thoughts, Culls its oughts, Trims its views,
November Cotton Flower
Boll-weevil's coming, and the winter's cold, Made cotton-stalks look rusty, seasons old, And cotton, scarce as any southern snow, Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow,
The Lost Dancer
Spatial depths of being survive The birth to death recurrences Of feet dancing on earth of sand; Vibrations of the dance survive
Full moon rising on the waters of my heart, Lakes and moon and fires, Cloine tires, Holding her lips apart.
Tell me, dear beauty of the dusk, When purple ribbons bind the hill, Do dreams your secret wish fulfill, Do prayers, like kernels from the husk
Come, brother, come. Lets lift it; come now, hewit! roll away! Shackles fall upon the Judgment Day But lets not wait for it.
Song of the Son
Pour O pour that parting soul in song O pour it in the sawdust glow of night Into the velvet pine-smoke air tonight, And let the valley carry it along.
African Guardian of Souls, Drunk with rum, Feasting on strange cassava, Yielding to new words and a weak palabra
The sky, lazily disdaining to pursue The setting sun, too indolent to hold A lengthened tournament for flashing gold, Passively darkens for night's barbeque,
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
To those fixed on white,
White is white,
To those fixed on black,
It is the same,
And red is red,
Surely there are such sights
In the many colored world,
Or in the mind.
The strange thing is that
These people never see themselves
Or you, or me.
Are they not in their minds?
Are we not in the world?
This is a curious blindness
For those that are color blind.
What queer beliefs
That men who believe in sights
Disbelieve in seers.
O people, if you but used
Your other eyes
You would see beings.