Jean Toomer: Poems Summary

Jean Toomer: Poems Summary

“Reapers”

The poem describes a reaper being pulled by black horses and tells how a rat becomes a fatal victim of its sharp blades.

“November Cotton Flower”

Recalls a winter drought during which cotton bloomed out of season and gave rise to the harvesting of an emotional crop called hope.

“Face”

A study of an old woman in whose face can be read the difficulty of her whole life.

“Cotton Song”

Featuring the rhythms of the chants sung by slaves forced into the cotton fields.

“Song of the Son”

The singers are once again the slaves and the eternal existence of the sun and the earth are presented alongside the slaves as a portrait of the natural world.

“Georgia Dusk”

This poem stands in counterpoint to “Son of the Sun” by showing how much the work of machines have taken over the cotton fields from the work of slaves.

“Nullo”

A poem with a more abstract quality that follows the flight of needles from a Georgia pine tree in flight to the ground.

“Evening Song”

The narrator recalls the night that his lover falls asleep in his arms.

“Conversion”

As the title suggestions, a poem that serves to contrast the new religion of Christianity against traditional African spirituality.

“Portrait in Georgia”

Another portrait of the effects of a hard life upon a woman calling the Georgia of lynches and miscegenation through rape her home.

“Storm Ending”

A description of the aftermath of a thunderstorm when the sun becomes visible again and the downpour slows to a drip.

“Karintha”

Composed of three prose sections and four lyrical sections, “Karintha” is considered by most critics and scholars to be entirely poetic in nature in its depiction of the young, beautiful and desirable title figure. The tale of Karintha pointedly reminds the reader that she is a woman even as old men remind her of her precocious allure as a child.

“Beehive”

The efficient industriousness of the occupants of the title object is the subject of this poem uses the metropolis of bees as a metaphor for the metropolitan areas that humans inhabit. The narrator views himself as a drone who longs to break free from his place in society and fly to land on some beautiful flower in a distant rural landscape.

“Prayer”

Another study in abstraction filled with imagery of separation as a commentary upon the inability to explain inner anxiety when the body is not fully connected to the soul.

“Blue Meridian”

A 739-line manifesto calling for a New America based on a rejection of outdated and meaningless ideas about race. The title refers to the blending of old ideas about racial coloring and the blue man and purple man that has resulted from the commingling of all the various ethnic and cultural groups.

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