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
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:
To those fixed on white, White is white, To those fixed on black, It is the same,
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.
A Portrait in Georgia
Hair-braided chestnut, coiled like a lyncher's rope, Eyes-fagots, Lips-old scars, or the first red blisters,
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
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,
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
Full moon rising on the waters of my heart, Lakes and moon and fires, Cloine tires, Holding her lips apart.
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.
Come, brother, come. Lets lift it; come now, hewit! roll away! Shackles fall upon the Judgment Day But lets not wait for it.
I am a reaper whose muscles set at sundown. All my oats are cradled. But I am too chilled, and too fatigued to bind them. And I hunger.
African Guardian of Souls, Drunk with rum, Feasting on strange cassava, Yielding to new words and a weak palabra
(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)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
Her Lips Are Copper Wire
whisper of yellow globes
gleaming on lamp-posts that sway
like bootleg licker drinkers in the fog
and let your breath be moist against me
like bright beads on yellow globes
telephone the power-house
that the main wires are insulate
(her words play softly up and down
dewy corridors of billboards)
then with your tongue remove the tape
and press your lips to mine
till they are incandescent