• Wed. Dec 7th, 2022

Janeane's World

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Black History Month – Langston Hughes – The Negro Speaks of Rivers


The Negro Speaks of Rivers www.janeanesworld.com
The poem of the day for today’s Black History Month tribute to Langston Hughes is The Negro Speaks of Rivers. During February each year, people all across the United States celebrate Black History Month. Things are no different here at Janeane’s World. This month I am copying an idea I got from my friend Pammy Pam over at An Unconventional Librarian and I am devoting the entire month to the poems of my favorite author and poet, Langston Hughes. I will start the month with my favorite poem and share a poem a day for the entire month.

You may ask what place does poetry or celebrations of Black History month have in this blog that was created to encourage, inspire and motivate women to be their best at work and home. I would answer that I am an African-American woman so black history is my history and when you understand and appreciate it, you come closer to understanding and appreciating me. I would also answer that poetry, like all forms of artistic expression fuels our passions, gives us hope makes us think and makes life richer and better.

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 m 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.

Here is a video of me sharing my take on “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”





It is a nice way to learn about several bodies of water that have relevance in African-American history. The imagery of bathing in the Euphrates appealed to me as a child. At the same time, being lulled to sleep by the Congo was appealing as well. Of course looking upon the Nile while the pyramids were raised beside it seems like a beautiful site. Then, the Mississippi River was relevant to so many African-Americans who were forcibly brought to the United States many years ago. The history, the water and the imagery have always appealed to me.

Interestingly, my first exposure to the words in this poem actually came while listening to a Gil Scott Heron song my father played when I was a child. The song had a repeat about a soul growing deep like the rivers. As an adult, I have actually grown deep like the rivers in the poem. I have lived a long and exciting life. I have experienced many adventures both good and bad. All of these things have made me deep, experienced and interesting to behold.

Look at your life, what experiences have influenced you, effected you, changed the way you look at the world. Think about those experiences and use them to write a story, poem or narrative of your own. In the alternative, make a video of your own interpreting the poem. Then email it to me at janeanedavis@janeanesworld.com