Analysis Of Jean Toomer Essay, Research Paper
Jean Toomer was born into a upper-class African American family ( being that his
grandfather, Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback was a Union officer in the Civil War
and became Acting Governor of Louisiana in the Days of Reconstruction) on 1896 in
Washington D.C. He showed strength in his early years as – when faced with adversity,
rather than wring his hands and retreat further into himself, Toomer searched for a plan
of action, an intellectual scheme and method to cope with a personal crisis. Later
Toomer attended college in several parts in the United States in which his interests
turned to religion and philosophy and wrote numerous essays about these subjects.
When he went to teach school in Georgia, where he absorbed the atmosphere of the
South and wrote his book Cane, a classic among black American literature which
combines sketches of black Southerners with poetry that expresses Toomer’s feelings
about identity and southern life. His writings were greatly praised during the Harlem
Renaisance during the 1920’s when black literature flourished. Most of Toomers
writings were written in conventional rhyme scheme and reflected weather in Georgia or
the feelings and customs of black Americans during the early twentieth century.
The Lost Dancer from The Collected Poems of Jean Toomer
Spatial depths of being survive
The birth to death recurrences
Of feet dancing on earth of sand;
Vibrations of the dance survive
The sand; the sand, elect, survives
The dancer. He can find no source
Of magic adequate to bind
The sand upon his feet, his feet
Upon his dance, his dance upon
The diamond body of his being.
This poem expresses Toomer’s struggle of maintaining his identity and culture
through his works. The image of the sand represents time in which the dancer
tries to leave his imprint of his soul, the diamond body of his being, through his
writings, the magic. This poem is characteristic of Modernism in Toomer’s ideas
convey abstract ideas about the soul.