Analyze the poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes.

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epollock's comments are very good, especially the opening focus on "human" history, not only African American history.

This poem really interests me because it seems at once both racially specific and non-specific. Most readers have no trouble seeing the racially specific elements: the speaker in the poem is "The Negro"...

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epollock's comments are very good, especially the opening focus on "human" history, not only African American history.

This poem really interests me because it seems at once both racially specific and non-specific. Most readers have no trouble seeing the racially specific elements: the speaker in the poem is "The Negro" and the references to the Mississippi and Abe Lincoln can be read as allusions to the enslavement of African Americans in the American South.

Fewer readers seem to pick up on the non-specific elements. The Euphrates is not closely connected to African American history, for example, and the Nile also has a tenuous connection. (There are widely held beliefs, not always easy to prove or disprove, among many African Americans that ancient Egypt was ruled by black African leaders.) The repeated use of the word "human" may work against a race-specific reading, as may the colors in the poem: "muddy," "golden," and "dusky" are more varied than "black."

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