Saturday, September 4, 2010

Late Great Cleveland: Langston Hughes

The Negro Speaks of Rivers
by Langston Hughes (1/1/1902 - 5/22/1967)

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 bathe 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.

* * * * *

"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" was first published in the
June 1921 issue of Crisis magazine, published by the NAACP.

Langston Hughes' biography & bibliography are available here.

Every Hughes poem in the public domain is online here.


Mike Finley ~ Big Vanilla said...

What a treasure

michael salinger said...

I'm really enjoying these snippets - if I were to be presumptuous though I might ask for a couple lines of bio with these featurettes.

How's that for gift horse dentistry?

Anonymous said...

that's not the poem my friend. the title is wrong

John B. Burroughs said...

Thanks to both Michaels! To the 2nd Michael: you've a good idea and I will do that in future posts.

To Anonymous: Thank you for catching my embarrassing brain lapse. That's the last time I post something here before I've had at least two cups of my morning coffee. When I was copying Langston's poem into the template I'd used for Hart Crane's "Garden Abstract," it didn't take and I didn't notice - leaving Hart's poem under Langston's title. I've fixed it now.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau