Study Guide

Vintage Hughes - Study Guide The Negro Speaks of Rivers Summary & Analysis

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The Negro Speaks of Rivers Summary

The poet begins by saying that he has known rivers and equates his own soul to the deep and ancient rivers of the world, including the Euphrates, the Nile, and the Mississippi Rivers.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers Analysis

This poem, published in 1921, is among Hughes' earlier poems. This poem falls into that category of poems in Hughes' oeuvre that has to do directly with race, and aims to meet a kind of spiritual-poetic need of the black community. With gravity and grace, this poem describes the dignity of the poet's—and by extension every black person's—soul. The poem is simple in form but there are several complexities at work in its simplicity.

First of all, notice that, after the title, the poem nowhere contains the word Negro. Hughes prefers to speak of his own soul...

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This section contains 591 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Vintage Hughes Study Guide
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Nonfiction Classics for Students
Vintage Hughes from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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