Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On this day in literature . . .

~ 1902 ~ Langston Hughes, the quintessential poet of the Harlem Renaissance, is born in Joplin, Missouri

One of my favorite poems by Hughes is "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (1920).

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.


Blogger Bet said...

I was nosing around on the web today looking for Langston Hughes poems and saw this one read by Hughes himself. Here's the link if you're interested in hearing the poet's voice:

5:31 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I actually have a book called Poetry Speaks that comes with three CDs of poets reading their own works, and this poem is one of a few read by Hughes on one CD. It's a fabulous book!

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Katherine said...

I love this book. I always play the Browning and Hughes recordings when I teach these authors. Hughes had such a beautiful voice.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Bet said...

Ahh, if only I still taught lit--I could justify buying that book. It sounds wonderful. Actually I could easily talk myself into it if I never taught a lit class again!

5:26 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Katherine, you were the one who originally inspired me to get the book! I remember when you brought it one day to Dr. Kraus's Victorianism class -- I was quite jealous! So I finally bought the book last year, and I've been able to use it particularly in my American lit class when we get to modern poets.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

I don't know if you remember this or not, but I recall Dr. Galloway reading this poem in American Lit class. It was one of the few times I felt she got soulful while reading poetry aloud. Don't get me wrong - I love the woman. It just actually felt like she was breathing the poetry instead of just reciting it.
Kind of a weird memory, but still..

7:58 PM  

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