Identify a critical appreciation of the poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Much critical analysis of Hughes' poem lies in how there is a fusion of history and the experience of the individual.   Hughes does an exemplary job of being able to link together the essence of how history and Africans parallel one another.  When discussing what it means to be African- American, Hughes draws the connection between and to history.  In this assertion, one can see that the speaking of rivers and of identity is rooted in historical consciousness, the idea that who one is today is a part of what one's background has been.  This link between one's present state and one's own history occupies a great deal of importance in Hughes, the poem, and the appreciation of it.  On another level, there is much in the poem to suggest the immortality of the soul and to link the idea that what is endured today is a part of a larger configuration or design.  This has much in way of relevance to African- Americans for Hughes.