Jean Toomer’s “Cane” hits shelves. The novel, which mixes prose, poetry, and scenes, is the first to be published from the movement that challenges literary form and is considered a model of High Modern literature (a la “William Carlos Williams’ “Spring and All” from the same year and James Joyce’s “Ulysses” from the year before.) The poem below is from the book in question.
NOVEMBER COTTON FLOWERBoll-weevil’s coming, and the winter’s cold,Made cotton-stalks look rusty, seasons old,And cotton, scarce as any southern snow,Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow,Failed in its function as the autumn rake;Drouth fighting soil had caused the soil to takeAll water from the streams; dead birds were foundIn wells a hundred feet below the ground—Such was the season when the flower bloomed.Old folks were startled, and it soon assumedSignificance. Superstition sawSomething it had never seen before:Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,Beauty so sudden for that time of year.