The Negro Speaks of Rivers

I’ve known rivers: 

I’ve 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 I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset. 


I’ve known rivers: 

Ancient, dusky rivers. 


My soul has grown deep like the rivers. 

Reproduced by kind permission of the BBC - 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers', read by the author, recorded by the BBC for Radio and Broadcast 28th April, 1962. from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Alfred A Knopf Inc, 1995 ) used by permission of David Higham Associates.

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