Beauty in a Wasteland
In the poem November Cotton Flower, Jean Toomer presents an unknown speaker who describes the struggle for survival the cotton flower faces during the winter. The poem also describes the harsh winter, and its effects, by referring to the dying branches of the cotton flower and the vanishing cotton. The images of scarcity, drought, and death parallel the oppression of race during the time period this poem was written. But towards the end of the poem, the speaker says, “Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,/ Beauty so sudden for that time of year” (Toomer). This shows, in human conditions, the rise of the African American race, and their fight against racism.
The structure of November Cotton Flower, gives the poem more emphasis and impact. The rhyme scheme especially, which is as follows: A, A, B, B, C, C, D, D, E, E, F, G, H, H. The significance for the break in the rhyme scheme at line 11 and 12, is to emphasize the mood change at that part in the poem. The beginning of the poem is dark and depressing. But at line 11, it describes hope for the cotton flower, in turn describing hope for the African American’s.
The speaker uses many figures of speech in this poem to really prove the point of the blossoming flower. For instance, the speaker uses imagery to describe the dying cotton when he says, “[…] and the winter’s cold,/ Made cotton stalks look rusty, seasons cold” (Toomer). He also uses a simile when he says, “[…] scarce as any southern snow” (Toomer). At the second to last line of the poem, he uses personification when he says, “Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear” (Toomer). These lines and phrases are used to compare the cotton flower to the African American race, while using an undertone voice.
This poem did a brilliant job of linking the oppression of race to the growing of a cotton flower. To fully understand November Cotton Flower, one must analyze with background knowledge of the time period this poem was...