Image of Jean Toomer

Jean Toomer

1894 - 1967

Jean Toomer (1894 – 1967) was an American poet and novelist commonly associated with the Harlem Renaissance and modernism. His reputation stems from his novel, Cane (1923), which Toomer wrote during and after a stint as principal at a black school in Sparta, Georgia. Sociologist Charles S. Johnson called the novel "the most astonishingly brilliant beginning of any Negro writer of his generation." Toomer resisted being classified as a Negro writer, as he identified as "American."



Her skin is like dusk on the eastern horizon,
O cant you see it, O cant you see it,
Her skin is like dusk on the eastern horizon
... When the sun goes down.
MEN had always... [+]



RHOBERT wears a house, like a monstrous diver’s helmet, on his head. His legs are banty-bowed and shaky because as a child he had rickets. He is way down. Rods of the house like antennæ of a dead... [+]



like streams of stars,
recurved canoes
quivered by the ripples blown by pain,
Her eyes—
mist of tears
condensing on the... [+]



Wind is in the cane. Come along.
Cane leaves swaying, rusty with talk,
Scratching choruses above the guinea’s squawk,
Wind is in the cane. Come along.
CARMA, in overalls... [+]


Evening Song

Full moon rising on the waters of my heart,
Lakes and moon and fires,
Cloine tires,
Holding her lips apart.
Promises of slumber leaving shore to charm the moon,
Miracle... [+]



Within this black hive to-night
There swarm a million bees;
Bees passing in and out the moon,
Bees escaping out the moon,
Bees returning through the moon,
Silver bees... [+]


Calling Jesus

HER soul is like a little thrust-tailed dog that follows her, whimpering. She is large enough, I know, to find a warm spot for it. But each night when she comes home and closes the big outside storm... [+]


Harvest Song

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.
I crack a grain between my teeth. I do not... [+]