Jean Toomer

(26 December 1894 – 30 March 1967 / Washington D.C.)

Quotations

  • ''Meanwhile, the men, with vestiges of pomp,
    Race memories of king and caravan,
    High-priests, an ostrich, and a juju-man,
    Go singing through the footpaths of the swamp.''
    Jean Toomer (1894-1967), U.S. poet. Georgia Dusk (l. 17-20). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair, eds. (2d ed., 1988) W. W. Norton & Company.
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  • ''O singers, resinous and soft your songs
    Above the sacred whisper of the pines,
    Give virgin lips to cornfield concubines,
    Bring dreams of Christ to dusky cane-lipped throngs.''
    Jean Toomer (1894-1967), U.S. poet. Georgia Dusk (l. 25-28). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair, eds. (2d ed., 1988) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''some genius of the South
    With blood-hot eyes and cane-lipped scented mouth,
    Surprised in making folk-songs from soul sounds.''
    Jean Toomer (1894-1967), U.S. poet. Georgia Dusk (l. 6-8). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair, eds. (2d ed., 1988) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''Superstition saw
    Something it had never seen before:
    Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,
    Beauty so sudden for that time of year.''
    Jean Toomer (1894-1967), U.S. poet. November Cotton Flower (l. 11-14). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair, eds. (2d ed., 1988) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds,
    His belly close to ground. I see the blade,
    Blood-stained, continue cutting weeds and shade.''
    Jean Toomer (1894-1967), U.S. poet. Reapers (l. 6-8). . . Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair, eds. (2d ed., 1988) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''one seed becomes

    An everlasting song, a singing tree,
    Caroling softly souls of slavery,
    What they were, and what they are to me,
    Caroling softly souls of slavery.''
    Jean Toomer (1894-1967), U.S. poet. Song of the Son (l. 19-23). . . Norton Introduction to Poetry, The. J. Paul Hunter, ed. (3d ed., 1986) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''O land and soil, red soil and sweet-gum tree,
    So scant of grass, so profligate of pines,''
    Jean Toomer (1894-1967), U.S. poet. Song of the Son (l. 6-7). . . Norton Introduction to Poetry, The. J. Paul Hunter, ed. (3d ed., 1986) W. W. Norton & Company.

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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
The sand; the sand, elect, survives
The dancer. He can find no source
Of magic adequate to bind
The sand upon his feet, his feet
Upon his dance, his dance upon
The diamond body of his being.

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