History Other / The Frustration Of History

The Frustration Of History

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Autor:  anton  23 March 2011
Tags:  Frustration,  History
Words: 515   |   Pages: 3
Views: 443

In this paper I will discuss Langston Hughes poem “ The Negro Speaks of Rivers” as a metaphor for African American History. Langston Hughes became the central figure of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s. This poem happens to be the most easily understood; unlike most of his poems. It seems as though Langston Hughes attempted to shed light on and trace African American’s history by use of the word “river.” But on the other hand this poem can also be interpreted as having compassion and love for all races. I will make an effort to explore both views.

Mr. Hughes uses the word river as a metaphor for history or historical events. It’s as though the river is symbolic or parallel to the presence of African American historical life experiences. The poem speaks of the ancient history, the Euphrates, the Congo, the Nile, and even the Pyramids. Suggesting African Americans throughout history has been fighting all the way through their history. In contrast, Hughes repeats “My soul has grown deep like the rivers.” This can be interpreted as his soul being the life force of his body and his soul recognizes his true identity. The river sort of represent the connection of mankind. The river flows like blood, and we are all linked by blood as children of God.

The poem gives an historical perspective of the bringing of man through slavery. The mysterious change of the Mississippi from mud to gold by the sun’s warmth is mirrored in the transformation of slaves into free men by Lincoln’s Proclamation. Mentioning Abraham Lincoln indicates the abolishment of slavery and how they overcame once again.

On the other hand, the river indicates the connection of all human life from the earliest time to the present. The naming of the rivers can represent the history of Western culture. Form the Euphrates to the Mississippi, the history of mankind from biblical times to the period of the American Civil War is represented. When Hughes says “I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep/looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it,” focuses on the African experience. This didn’t just mean black people because the white and yellow races have lived along the Congo and were among the Egyptians’ slaves who built the pyramids.

Another thing the was apparent in Mr. Hughes poem was the emphasizes the word “I” which is visible at the beginning of each sentence. Because of the use of the “I” word, it reveals his individuality and suggest a since of pride. It’s obvious that Hughes didn’t experience any of the events he reference in the poem. Yet he felt entitled to express the them to the fullest extent to draw attention to detail.

After reading the poem I think it should have been called a “Negro Speaks of History” because it’s a African American (Negro) man giving evidence of his His Story.



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