In the short first stanza, the speaker in the poem by Langston Hughes states that he has “known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.” From this early point in the point in the poem, images of the canals of veins that run throughout the human body as well as similar images of rivers that wind around and are shaped like veins form our understanding that this poem is about more than blood or water, it is about roots and circuits. Like veins or rivers, roots run deep and twist irregularly through the medium in which they are planted. The ancient rivers the speaker talks of are like the blood in veins or the roots under trees because they provide sustenance and can give and support life. This is later supported when the speaker discusses early civilizations that thrived off the river system, thus the theme of “roots” has a dual meaning.
Although that will be addressed later in this analysis of "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston... [continues]
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