Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Editions can help.
Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Editions can help.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers Summary & Analysis
by Langston Hughes

Question about this poem?
Have a question about this poem?
Have a specific question about this poem?
Have a specific question about this poem?
Have a specific question about this poem?
A LitCharts expert can help.
A LitCharts expert can help.
A LitCharts expert can help.
A LitCharts expert can help.
A LitCharts expert can help.
Ask us
Ask us
Ask a question
Ask a question
Ask a question

"The Negro Speaks of River" is a poem written in 1920 by the American poet Langston Hughes. One of the key poems of a literary movement called the "Harlem Renaissance," "The Negro Speaks of River" traces black history from the beginning of human civilization to the present, encompassing both triumphs (like the construction of the Egyptian pyramids) and horrors (like American slavery). The poem argues that the black "soul" has incorporated all of this historical experience, and in the process has become "deep." The poem thus suggests that black cultural identity is continuous, that it stretches across the violence and displacement of slavery to connect with the past—and that black people have made vital, yet often neglected contributions to human civilization.

Get
Get
LitCharts
Get the entire guide to “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” as a printable PDF.
Download