Monday, February 2, 2009

"Reapers" by Jean Toomer

It has a simple rhyme scheme: a, a, b, b, c, c, d, d. I love the alliteration in the first line with "black reapers with the sound of steel on stones are sharpening scythes" (line 1-2). In line 4, "start their silent swinging" also shows the repetition of "s" to demonstrate to the ear the constant swinging of the scythe, sort of like a slow and steady sound (like a horror movie with the simple, yet repetitive music that is scary and suspenseful). The theme of death and the reaper's apathy pervade this poem. In line 1, "black reapers with the sound of steel on stones" and, on line 4, "their silent swinging" show the reaper's cold yet apathetic feelings toward his job. He sees it as a simple, yet unemotional job to sharpen his scythe and swing it carelessly. On line 6, the reaper cuts a "field rat, startled, squealing bleeds." The reaper does not care that it harms anything else. It just "continue[s] cutting weeds and shade" (line 8). Death does not show favoritism; it cuts down whoever and whatever is in its way.

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