Friday, February 4, 2011


The poem “Reapers” is a short but powerful poem that delves into the insignificant life of a slave. Reapers is a very short poem with eight lines with a very simple “aa bb cc dd” rhyme scheme. The shortness and simplicity of the poem also shows the meaninglessness of a slave. The word “black” is used twice; the very first word of the first line, and the first word of the fourth line, grabbing the readers’ attention . A reaper is someone who helps during the harvest season, and clearly the word black is describing an African-American slave. Later on the fourth line, black is used to describe horses that are driving mowers through weeds. I think even in this situation, black horses are referring to the slaves, but the slaves are being described as animals. The fact that slaves were simply thought of as animals is degrading, and the author thinks it is important to prove that viewpoint. Another important aspect of this poem is the strong use of alliteration. The author uses the “sound” of the letter “s” 14 times in the poem. This allows the audience to hear that “s” sound to remind the reader of the slaves who are working day and night in the fields for nothing, simply because “slave” also starts with that sound. Their blood, sweat, and tears go in to working for their plantation masters and in return they are treated like insignificant creatures, lower than animals. Despite there being no respect given to the slaves at the time, the author is able to prove their strength as well by using words like steel and stones. And at the end of the poem, “blood-stained” is used to describe the sacrifice given by every slave, in which the author is giving tribute to for all the hardships they went through.

1 comment:

  1. I also felt that this poem was about slaves. In the poem, Toomer is representing the lives and mistreatment of African-Americans. He speaks on how the slaves worked hard and were treated like animals. In the last three lines of the poem he is basically saying that people knew that African-Americans were being mistreated, but nobody did anything about it.