Analysis Of The Negro Speaks Of Rivers

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“The Negro Speaks of Rivers” Analysis The speaker claims that he has known rivers as “ancient as the world,” older than the blood that flows in our veins. His soul has grown deep, just like the rivers. He writes about bathing in the Euphrates at the beginning of civilization, and later, he builds a hut along the Congo and listens to the river as he falls asleep. He looks at the Nile and watches the pyramids rise nearby; he hears the muddy Mississippi sing when Abraham Lincoln travels to New Orleans. He repeats that he has known “ancient, dusky rivers,” and his soul has grown deep like the rivers. “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” is Langston Hughes’s first mature poem. He wrote it in 1920 at the age of seventeen, while traveling by train to visit his father in Mexico. The young Hughes was inspired to pen this verse when his train crossed over the Mississippi River. It was published in 1921 in the journal the Crisis, which had a predominantly African American readership. Although Hughes did not technically write "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" in or about Harlem, he addresses themes that would later become closely associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes dedicated this poem to W.E.B. DuBois, the founder of the NAACP and Crisis magazine, a few years after its initial publication. It was also read out loud at Hughes's own funeral service in 1967. When Langston Hughes was writing "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," he was most influenced by the work of Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman. He particularly cited Whitman's “Song of Myself” as an inspiration for the longer lines in “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” The poem is free verse but when spoken aloud has the rhythm of a gospel preacher. Hughes utilizes anaphora, which is the repetition of words or phrases at the start of each line, like “I built,” “I looked,” and “I heard.” In this poem, the speaker links himself to his ancestors, firmly placing them in important historical, religious, and cultural sites all over the world. The speaker begins by claiming a connection to the world's ancient rivers that predate human beings, and that has made his soul grow "deep like the rivers.". With a few carefully crafted words, This insightful and articulate description
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