Treasure Island

Langston Hughes

(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967 / Missouri)

The Negro Speaks Of Rivers


I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

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.
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.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Kelly Kelley (1/13/2014 7:29:00 PM)

    My history teacher read this poem to the class when we were learning about to roaring 20's and the Harlem Renaissance, & it was so powerful, it made me think about what blacks had to do to get to where they are today! (Report) Reply

  • Elena Alley (1/20/2009 11:55:00 PM)

    I think this poem says it all. It eludes to the beginning of time, the trials, and now. It captures the cohesion we all have now regardless of race. 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers' has always been my favorite poem. I Just Love it! ! ! ! BTW, I am Navajo/Hispanic, but I heard it for the first time in college, that is when I fell in love with it. I hope you love it like I do! (Report) Reply

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