Study Guide

The N**** Speaks of Rivers Perseverance

By Langston Hughes

Perseverance

In "The N**** Speaks of Rivers," as our speaker charts the heritage of black Americans, beginning with the cradle of civilization in the Middle East and ending with references to slavery as seen from the Mississippi River, he traces over four thousand years of history. He tells us that as a result of all that he has seen, heard, done, and witnessed, his soul has grown "deep as rivers." Rivers have stood the test of time and carry an incredible wisdom as a result. Hughes draws a connection between the rivers and the black community, which has endured much and carries an equally profound and powerful wisdom.

Questions About Perseverance

  1. Why does our speaker choose to focus on the Euphrates, the Congo, the Nile, and the Mississippi rivers?
  2. Where do we get a sense of perseverance in this poem?

Chew on This

Our speaker’s soul is deep as rivers because he has persevered.