Jean Toomer’s Cane has long been recognized as a singular work of American modernism, mixing prose, lyric poetry, black spirituals, and drama to forge an aesthetic search for African American self-realization. In staging the failure of black characters to achieve this by rooting themselves in the soil and rustic life of Georgia, I argue, Cane enacts a complex pastoralism, which focalizes the dissonant and pervasive doubleness of black life in an age of technological transformation. With bifurcations that include African and American, past and present, rural and urban, South and North, black vernacular speech and standardized English writing, Toomer ironizes and racializes the longing for an unspoiled Arcadia that might redress the insufficiencies of the present. In the face of the racialized forces of modernization and industrialization, which threaten to translate black consciousness and aspirations into a single idiom, Toomer insists on a writing that maintains intimate contact with the contradictions and particularities of black life, forging complexities that resist translation and subvert unexamined American myths of exceptionalism and progress. Ultimately, African American self-realization remains unachieved in Cane; its complex pastoralism reveals this open-ended project requires inventively affirming the antitheses of modern black life, defiantly asserting its singularity and untranslatability.