The Negro Speaks Of Rivers By Langston Hughes


The Negro speaks of rivers, the poet persona uses four (4) of the world’s largest and most historical prominent rivers which are : Euphrates, Nile, Mississippi and Congo as metaphor to present a view of the African experience. Each of the four rivers contributes to the depth of the poet persona’s soul. At the end of the poem, the poet persona has triumphed over his adversary.

Poetic Devices used in the poem The Negro Speaks Of Rivers

The poetic devices use in this poem titled The Negro Speaks Of Rivers are as follows;
Assonance personification alliteration repetition, simile and symbolism. 
  1. Alliteration : I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep. 
  2. Simile : My soul has grown like the rivers I have known rivers ancient as the world. 
  3. Assonance :  I have known rivers ancient as the world and older. 
  4. Personification : I heard the singing of the Mississippi. <br> I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young. 
  5. Symbolism : River symbolizes the flow of mankind and the period of American Civil War. 
The poem (The Negro Speaks Of Rivers) has thirteen (13) lines. 
  • Racial identity : The poet use the river as metaphor to describe the plight of African, Americans and their triumph over their advisory.  The blacks were taken to the United States of America as slaves through the river. 
  • Strength of River : The poet honors the strength which enables the African-American’s to survive their pains and harrowing experience. 
  • Power of Nature : The river can clean and purify humans. In the poem, the poet persona bathes in the river and river is the Source of life, wisdom and Purification.  Even today christians baptism which originated when John the Baptist who anointed Jesus Christ in River Jordan, represents both a symbol of purification and entrance of New life. 
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