The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Topics: Mississippi River, American Civil War, African American Pages: 1 (342 words) Published: November 13, 2010
“The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” is a poem by Langston Hughes. The poem enlightens the reader on the beginnings of all people, no matter what their skin color, it shows that all people had a humble beginning and there is no difference. He shows his non-bias by his acceptance of all people in his poem, and shows how closely people’s beginnings connect one another to something bigger than their skin color, that the tone of someone’s skin has no bearing on what kind of person they are. To me it sounded like he was enumerating the African American’s journey from where they began to where they ended up, and that which they went through only made them stronger and gave them a deeper meaning and context of what they survived.

In “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” the line “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, 8) which knowing history, and how Abraham Lincoln first observed a slave auction in New Orleans, speaks to me of the future. For Abraham Lincoln would be the man to set the slaves free, and to bring light to a dark period within our own history. The line “I’ve known rivers: Ancient, dusky rivers,” (Hughes, 10) brings to mind that the history of the country has gone through many changes, and that Hughes has studied those changes. The dark period within our own history, and the cloudy beginnings that made things hard to see, hard to understand, and yet he saw through that and saw some hopeful light. The experience he has gained by his travel’s, is immeasurable to him. It has guided him and allowed him to put so much of what he has seen and witnessed through history into context, and given him the wisdom to discuss it and keep the thoughts and feelings from it encapsulated for all future generations to read and understand.
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