The Negro Speaks of Rivers

In: English and Literature

Submitted By liddledreamerx3
Words 710
Pages 3
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
Throughout the poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” by Langston Hughes he speaks about four different but specific rivers. The four rivers include Euphrates, the Congo, the Nile and the Mississippi River. Each of the rivers represents something either Hughes has experienced or his African American culture has experienced. Hughes shows his spiritual strength along with his identity to connect with his ancestors. Many of Hughes writings have to do with racial pride and personal dignity. The structure of the poem lists the rivers in order of which historical moments happened throughout history. Robina Winbush says, Hughes writes to remind a people who had been enslaved that their history began long before 1619,when their ancestors who had been snatched from their homelands, survived the horrors of the Middle Passage and were brought in chains to the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Brazil (Winbush). The most important part of the poem is when Hughes says: “I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young. I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep. I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it. I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.” (Hughes, 5-10) He goes through each river, each one representing a different part of African American experiences throughout history. The first river, “I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young,” (Hughes, 5) symbolizes the beginning of the world’s civilization. This was a time before racial issues and slavery, when the world was young. The next river he speaks about is the Congo, “I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep” (Hughes, 6). This symbolizes the normal activities that black men were expected to do. The Congo River represents natural…...

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