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Storyboard Text

  • Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones Are sharpening scythes. I see them place the hones In their hip-pockets as a thing that’s done, And start their silent swinging, one by one. Black horses drive a mower through the weeds, And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds. His belly close to ground. I see the blade, Blood-stained, continue cutting weeds and shade.
  • Form
  • Diction
  • Imagery
  • “Reapers” is a short poem of eight lines in iambic pentameter rhymed couplets, a form sometimes referred to as heroic couplets. The eight lines divide neatly into two sections, each representing a different vision.
  • Symbolism
  • Essentially, the speaker seems to believe that the machines will be the end of the world (something which proves to be dark, gloomy, and utterly pessimistic).
  • Juxtaposition
  • Toomer uses brutal imagery to display the reaper's violence and lack of mercy in order to show that there should be a rise in African American employment and a fall in the use of mechanical reapers. The device used is brutal imagery like "Blood-stained" and "squealing bleeds".
  • Enjambment
  • Shing....shing...shing
  • The idea of killing a mere rat, a tiny, insignificant thing, should remind us of the violence and ruthlessness with which slaves were treated in the time of slavery.
  • The slave-driver takes the place of the slave in the field; the slave-driver becomes the Grim Reaper, and then he/she reaps the rat, the slave.
  • "Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones Are sharpening scythes. I see them place the hones In their hip-pockets as a thing that’s done,"
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