The Negro Speaks of Rivers by (Langston Hughes) - Essay Example

Only on StudentShare

Extract of sample
The Negro Speaks of Rivers by (Langston Hughes)

7) and who "heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans," (l. 8) represents all Black people. Their presence and contributions to the development of civilization is ancient and timeless, like the rivers.
I found this poem to be powerful and moving, and it made me feel joyous and uplifted, yet humbled by what it portrayed. I felt that Hughes was rightfully proud of his race, that he understood the importance of his ancestors and that for him, history was a testament to the strength of his people. The opening line "I've known rivers", is so simple, but when repeated and added to in the words that follow, gathers and sends a powerful message. Rivers are the lifeblood of the planet, and he links that idea to humanity with "flow of blood in human veins" (l. 3). By joining body and soul: "My soul has grown deep like the rivers" ( l. 5 and 13), he expressed the truth about all of us. We are all body and soul. But he is stating that the Black soul has withstood much and held fast to wisdom and strength. With the repetition of the words "I've known rivers/Ancient, dusky rivers, (l. 11-12) he brings to life the dark skin of his people and there is pride in the depth of his and their souls at the end of the poem. ...
Download paper


In this poem, 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers', the poet, Langston Hughes uses a voice that speaks for all people of his race, defining the history, heritage and civilization of all Black people of African origin or descent. He takes the four great rivers that have long been connected to the development of human civilization and links them to the African American, or Negro experience…
Author : raul46

Related Essays

Langston Hughes College Essay
Hughes published more than thirty-five books that utilized such diverse formats as poetry, scripts, operas, essays, and musicals aimed at both children's and adult audiences. Langston Hughes was able to not only illustrate what it meant to be black, but he was also able to show blacks what it meant to be American.
7 pages (1757 words) Essay
Hughes Poetry
In his essay, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain," Hughes presents his views about writers and poets' loss of racial pride stating that "no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself" (http:/ He continues to declare:
5 pages (1255 words) Book Report/Review
Langston Hughes' Poem
In "Rivers, " Hughes claimed this legacy-vocabulary of place encompassing "downriver, " the term for all the dreaded places in the lower South to which slaves were sold off, "the riverside, " one of the relative safe havens and sites of resistance within the domain of the plantation itself, and "over Jordan, " the beckoning frontier of freedom visible from inside the bounds of enslavement and exile as it was elaborated and interpreted in the nineteenth century in the traditional Negro spirituals and in such classic fugitive slave narratives as Frederick Douglass's and Harriet Jacobs's as sites...
2 pages (502 words) Essay
Langston Hughes: The Harlem Renaissance Genius
Although the roots of this African American tradition go long back, the early twentieth century, especially the 1920s was one of supreme creative activity. Much of it was focused on the district of Harlem in New York City. There was a significant increase in the scope and number of publications; literary productions including plays and songs found unprecedented popularity. Not for nothing is the period called Harlem Renaissance. The period however, is also marked by trauma and pathos. When the United States entered World War I (1914-1918) in 1917, there was a massive migration of blacks from...
6 pages (1506 words) Essay
Comparison between August Wilson and Langston Hughes
One of his most anthologized poems, The Negro speaks of Rivers has been acclaimed for his passionate acceptance of his race and his reclaiming of black origins. Before Hughes wrote, many African-American artists avoided portraying lower-class black life because they believed such images fed racist stereotypes and attitudes. Hughes was of the opinion that authentic portraits of actual people would counter negative caricatures of African Americans more effectively and so wrote about, and for the common man. Hughes claimed that ninety percent of his work attempted "to explain and illuminate the...
6 pages (1506 words) Essay
Got a tricky question? Receive an answer from students like you! Try us!