In the poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers, Hughes tells a story of the black man's evolution to America. The poem illustrates racial pride and dignity. Hughes uses symbolism, free verse, and tone to create a clear picture of in the poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers Hughes uses the use of symbolism to convey the story of his people. The poem must be critically analyzed to fully understand the essence of Hughes writing. The use of the "I" throughout the poem refers to the black people as a hole, not as an individual person. The "rivers" are used as a metaphor for Hughes illustrates the poem to be direct and comprehensible. He is now a black man who has experienced the pain of slavery and racism, and his soul now has the trademark of these experiences. The "muddy bosom" is refereed to as a black mother which he rests secure forever. The poem traces the movement of black life from the Euphrates and Nile Rivers in Africa to the Mississippi. The Euphrates symbolizes the original center of human civilization. At the end of the poem Hughes writes, "My soul has grown deep like the rivers", suggest the understanding beyond the memory of the suffering of slaves, but a more deeply memory of freedom. An example of free verse is written throughout his whole poem. "I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it" refers to the act of slavery. The poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers is written in an open form of poetry. Hughes combines many different aspects of literature including symbolism, tone, and free verse to illustrate the experiences of the Negro man. The second time the line appears it suggests that he is no longer the same man who "bathed in the Euphrates" and built his hut near the Congo. The sunset represents Afro American's freedom. Hughes uses the Abe Lincoln as a symbol of American slavery which was a transformation of slaves into free men.
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