Jean Toomer’s “Cane” hits shelves

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.


Boll-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 take
All water from the streams; dead birds were found
In wells a hundred feet below the ground—
Such was the season when the flower bloomed.
Old folks were startled, and it soon assumed
Significance. Superstition saw
Something it had never seen before:
Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,
Beauty so sudden for that time of year.

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