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About this Poem 

As a young adult, Toomer actively participated in a literary society and was acquainted with such prominent figures as the critic Kenneth Burke, the photographer Alfred Steiglitz, and the poet Hart Crane. Around the same time, Toomer became interested in Unitism, a religion founded by the Armenian George Ivanovich Gurdjieff. The doctrine taught unity, transcendence, and mastery of self through yoga: all of which appealed to Toomer, a light-skinned black man preoccupied with establishing an identity in a society of rigid race distinctions.

Storm Ending

Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads,
Great, hollow, bell-like flowers,
Rumbling in the wind,
Stretching clappers to strike our ears . . .
Full-lipped flowers
Bitten by the sun
Bleeding rain
Dripping rain like golden honey—
And the sweet earth flying from the thunder.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Jean Toomer

Jean Toomer

Born in 1894, Jean Toomer is the author of Cane, a book of prose poetry describing the people and landscape of Georgia.

by this poet

Hair--braided chestnut,
     coiled like a lyncher's rope,
Lips--old scars, or the first red blisters,
Breath--the last sweet scent of cane,
And her slim body, white as the ash
     of black flesh after flame.

Whoever it was who brought the first wood and coal
To start the Fire, did his part well;
Not all wood takes to fire from a match,
Nor coal from wood before it’s burned to charcoal.
The wood and coal in question caught a flame
And flared up beautifully, touching the air
That takes a

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.
Black horses drive a mower through the weeds,
And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds.
His belly close to ground