Song of the Son

By Jean Toomer 1894–1967 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 tonight,
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.

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Poet Jean Toomer 1894–1967

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Subjects Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers, The Body, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Jean  Toomer

Biography

An important figure in African-American literature, Jean Toomer (1894—1967) was born in Washington, DC, the grandson of the first governor of African-American descent in the United States. A poet, playwright, and novelist, Toomer’s most famous work, Cane, was published in 1923 and was hailed by critics for its literary experimentation and portrayal of African-American characters and culture.

As a child, Toomer attended both . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers, The Body, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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