Birth of a Civilization
An analysis of “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes
American Literature 2328-8448
Deah N. Mitchell
The violation of the African civilization that is known as slavery is defined as “a submission to a dominating influence” by Merriam-Webster. There are many accounts of this practice, and many more attempts to rectify its toll on African-Americans and its long-standing consequences. One such effort is the rhythmical reflection of ancestry through artistry- specifically poetry. During the Harlem Renaissance era several African American writers emerged. One of the most prominent and successful authors was James Mercer Langston Hughes. ...view middle of the document...
“I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young. I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep. I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.”
This is symbolic for racial pride can witnessed in the building of residences near the Congo and more importantly the mention of erecting something as significant as the Egyptian pyramids. The pyramids are one of the most compelling and lasting symbols of Ancient Egypt civilization. To have any part in the construction of such a historic monument would likely boost one’s self-worth! Another symbolic element of pride can be observed by the following sentiments:
“…I've seen it’s muddy
Bosom turn all golden in the sunset.”
To witness something soiled and sullied transform into a beautiful golden gift in the twilight, seems to be a beautiful way of expressing pride of a people while maintaining humility. After all the turmoil at the end of the day, the poem seems to say, they are still a rare and stunning population that rises above the complexities of slavery. The Mississippi River reference signifies the slave trade along the shorelines, while Lincoln reminds the reader of his decision to emancipate the slaves. This particular river could have been symbolic because it was believed that...