by Jean Toomer Jean Toomer's poem, "Reapers", brings a sense of death to the reader's mind. The speaker in the poem conveys a dark mood and setting which provide imagery that virtually takes the reader along on this journey with Death himself. As a reader you start to feel a sense of despair. This powerful one stanza poem does all that and more. In the very first line of this one stanza poem, Jean Toomer has somewhat of an alliteration with the phrase "...the sound of steel on stones." That phrase also creates sounds in the background of the speaker's voice, sounds of the reapers' scythes sharpening, ready to meet the next challenge. At the beginning of that same line, the words "Black reapers..." set the mood as being very dark and empty, almost bleak. At the beginning of the second line, a phrase is continued from the previous line, "...the sound of steel on stones/Are sharpening scythes." That very phrase imprints the picture of someone, something preparing, preparing for what, you can't be too sure. Continuing on that same line and the one below, you can infer that the preparation is done and they are ready to move on. The AB rhyme scheme brings you into the fourth line of this eight line poem, "And their silent swinging, one by one." As the reader, you can feel the brush of air by your face as the number and power of the swings increases. You can also hear sounds of chopping, slicing destruction. It is precise, clean destruction though, as if they know exactly what they are doing. Yet another image of darkness is created by the words "Black horses" at the beginning of the fifth line. They may also be a metaphor for a man driving his mowers, that man who can "...drive a mower through the weeds." And there, an unassuming field rat is the next victim of this cruel dark predator. The speaker creates a loud squeal and the sight of blood in front of the reader's eyes, as if the dying field rat is about to take its last breath in front of your very eyes. With the next line, it is not yet dead, but trying to pull itself closer to the ground, hoping the edge of that sharp blade will not find him. "I see the blade/Blood-stained, continue cutting weeds and shade." The speaker shows that the man has no idea what has just gone on, the pain and suffering of that one field rat. He continues doing his work. His life has not been affected at all.
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