• Power of Language in Langston Hughes’ Poems ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’ and ‘Mother to Son’

    Pages: 5

    In five pages this paper explores how the poet employs such literary devices as metaphors in these poems to illustrate the power of language to readers. Two sources are cited in the bibliography.

    File: TG15_TGlangston.rtf

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    blank page was this artists canvas upon which he painted vivid word pictures that chronicled the history of the African-American struggle. Hughes wrote novels and essays, but it was  his poetry that defined for many African Americans what it meant to be black and to be proud of their heritage. Black was more than a color; it was  a tradition, a culture, and an approach to life that was handed down from one generation to the next. In two of his earliest poems, The Negro Speaks of  Rivers (1921) and Mother to Son (1922), Hughes eloquently speaks of the black experience in a language that is symbolic, poignant, and inspirational. These works rely heavily upon metaphor  that serves to reinforce the poets powerful message. The Negro Speaks of Rivers was a poem Langston Hughes penned while still a teenager while crossing the mighty Mississippi River (Tracy  65). He and his oft-estranged father were going to Mexico to become better acquainted (Tracy 65). This is important because the poem is, in essence, about African Americans  becoming reacquainted with their past: Ive known rivers: Ive 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 Ive seen  its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset. Ive known rivers: Ancient, dusky rivers. My soul has grown deep like the rivers (Hughes 1254). The 

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