Song of the Son

Jean Toomer

 
     Pour O pour that parting soul in song,
     O pour it in the sawdust glow of night,
     Into the velvet pine-smoke air to-night,
     And let the valley carry it along.
     And let the valley carry it along.
O land and soil, red soil and sweet-gum tree,
So scant of grass, so profligate of pines,
Now just before an epoch's sun declines
Thy son, in time, I have returned to thee,
Thy son, I have in time returned to thee.
In time, for though the sun is setting on
A song-lit race of slaves, it has not set;
Though late, O soil, it is not too late yet
To catch thy plaintive soul, leaving, soon gone,
Leaving, to catch thy plaintive soul soon gone.
O Negro slaves, dark purple ripened plums,
Squeezed, and bursting in the pine-wood air,
Passing before they stripped the old tree bare
One plum was saved for me, 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.
 
From Cane by Jean Toomer. Copyright © 1923 Boni and Liveright, renewed 1951 by Jean Toomer. Used with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

Poems by This Author

Portrait in Georgia by Jean Toomer
Hair--braided chestnut,
Reapers by Jean Toomer
Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones
Storm Ending by Jean Toomer
Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads


Further Reading

Black History
A Negro Love Song
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
A Song for Many Movements
by Audre Lorde
American History
by Michael S. Harper
Believing in Iron
by Yusef Komunyakaa
Black Woman
by Georgia Douglas Johnson
Derrick Poem (The Lost World)
by Terrance Hayes
Dreams
by Langston Hughes
For the Confederate Dead
by Kevin Young
Frederick Douglass
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Haircut
by Elizabeth Alexander
Harriet Tubman
by Eloise Greenfield
homage to my hips
by Lucille Clifton
I'm A Fool To Love You
by Cornelius Eady
La Vie C'est La Vie
by Jessie Redmon Fauset
Langston Blue
by Jericho Brown
Lift Every Voice and Sing
by James Weldon Johnson
Quatrains
by Gwendolyn Bennett
Reunion 2005
by Rita Dove
Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou
The Day I Saw Barack Obama Reading Derek Walcott's Collected Poems
by Yusef Komunyakaa
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
by Langston Hughes
The Spring Cricket Considers the Question of Negritude
by Rita Dove
The White House
by Claude McKay
We Real Cool
by Gwendolyn Brooks
We Wear the Mask
by Paul Laurence Dunbar