Wednesday, November 8, 2017

An Evening Song for Jean Toomer

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
"Facing West, a somnolent Moon reflects tranquility from a joyous Sun smiling to the East."

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 made vesper-keeps,
Cloine sleeps,
And I'll be sleeping soon.

Cloine, curled like the sleepy waters where the moon-
  waves start,
Radiant, resplendently she gleams,
Cloine dreams,
Lips pressed against my heart.


— Jean Toomer


An evening song will be sung on Sunday November 12, 2017 as Jean Toomer will be inducted into the American Poets Corner at St John the Divine Cathedral in New York City.

Jean Toomer (1894-1967) eschewed labels of being black or white. He preferred to be called American. His first book of poetry, Cane published in 1923 is his best known work and speaks to life in agricultural Georgia, the industrialized North and concludes with the prose piece Kabnis. Evening Song is an example of the poems to be found in the first section of Cane.

Though he was associated with the Harlem Renaissance, Toomer distanced himself from that label. Toomer's last published piece of poetry in his lifetime was Blue Meridian in 1950. A volume of poetry, fiction and autobiographical writings was published posthumously as The Wayward and the Seeking in 1980.