Poems “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and “Still i Rise”
Many people don’t know the importance of poems. Poems can be used as a symbol of expression through feelings, sounds, and in many poems, literary devices are used very frequently. Poetry is a piece of writing that partakes of the nature of both speech and song that is nearly always rhythmical, usually metaphorical, and often exhibits such formal elements as meter, rhyme, and stanzaic structure.
My perception of poems are just a fun and unique way to express strong emotion. Many people over time have written poems throughout history to better describe the life and times that they’ve been through . Although poems are often presented with high emotion and detail, they’re some poems that are usually light hearted and written with less meaning or impact about them. Those are the poems that are more likely to be funny or more relatable to everyday life. The poem that I am going to be analyzing and identifying the literary devices in, is one of those “strong emotion” poems, written by one of the most famous poets ever, Langston Hughes titled, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”
How it works
In this poem written by Langston Hughes, he is talking about the rivers and how they are in relation to him and his lifetime. There are several literary devices used throughout this poem. The first and main device is his use of the extended metaphor of “Rivers.” As the poem begins, he states, “I’ve known rivers”.
In the poem he talks about rivers over four thousand years old, so when he says he’s known the rivers we know that he hasn’t lived over all that time. He himself is representing a community of people over time that has been around and the rivers is the metaphor of the history spirit and wisdom of African American (Negro) people. Therefore, rivers is basically the superstar and focal point of this poem and is the extended metaphor constantly used throughout it .
Now that it’s clear that rivers play a huge role in this poem, the second literary device is still in connection with the rivers . In the poem he says that the rivers are as “ancient as the world” which is a form of simile in which he is comparing the age of the rivers to the age of earth. Once again, we are reminded how old and refined are all the rivers in this poem and how they compare to the lifespan of the AfricaLiterature n American people’s history. He again uses simile in related to the river in the poem when he says “my soul has grown deep like the rivers.” By this point, I see that the author is basically in unison with the rivers and they are like one as he states that same phrase repeatedly in the poem.
The last and most used literary device in this poem is the allusion that Hughes consistently pictured in his poem. A lot has been talked about the rivers, but nothing about which rivers he is talking about . Now is the time to talk about those rivers and how they were alluded to the Nile River, the Mississippi River, and the Congo River Basin, which is located in central Western Africa. The Congo River is personified as it has lulled the author to sleep like a mother sings a lullaby to her newborn baby. Based on this, I assume the Congo River was relaxing and calming.
The allusion to the Nile River was to a moment in history in which the pyramids were built. He also uses a hyperbole when saying, “I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.” As an analyst, I am sure I know he couldn’t have created one of the seven wonders of earth all by himself. He felt strength and courage with the Nile River. Then again, we are presented with an allusion to the Mississippi River and to the moment in history when Abe Lincoln sailed down this river, witnessing the horrors of slavery.
He states, “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.” Knowing he wasn’t around that time in history, Hughes, again shows us how much he is in touch with these rivers and how they’ve played a part in history, specifically the Black African American Negro history.
Langston Hughes is known to be one of the best poets in the history of poetry because of his great black intellectual literature. He is known to be the one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance. In this poem he uses various forms of literary devices and commonly uses multiple per line. In this poem, the Negro (which is he) tells of the famous America rivers and their form of relation to the African American history along with ties to him and his “soul” while not his most famous poem, this poem is detailed and informative enough to understand the meaning and thoughts which Hughes has had while writing it.
Many people have heard of or even know Ms. Maya Angelou. She was a famous poet as well and Hughes. Today, I will be analyzing her most famous poem, which is titled, “Still I Rise.” As told there are many literary devices used in the poem, the first and most clear device used in this is repetition. In the poem the author continuously states, “Still I Rise” after each stanza.
This statements represents that anything she goes through, she will still have great confidence and a positive and resilient attitude about the situation and rise above by all means necessary. Inside of the repetition of that quote, she is saying “I Rise,” which is symbolism in which rise means to literally stand up, but in this poem, “rise” means to persevere and defeat the situation no matter what and to always be resilient.
But still, like air, I’ll rise.” This shows that she is trying to first off show the cruel judgement and discrimination that people have amongst others. Unknowingly of anyone’s circumstances, people will judge you regardless and Angelou is aware of that, but she still states above everything, even people’s criticism and prejudice ways, she will still rise above that. This poem is showing her great strength and courage and that she won’t really fear anything specifically relating to people and their hateful and critical ways. Maya incourages people in this poem that what someone says about you does not define who you are as a person and that you have the strength to rise above all.
In this poem, Maya Angelou also uses multiple literary devices in sometimes maybe two lines or less. For example, she states “I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, welling and swelling I bear in the tide.” In just these two lines alone she uses many literary devices. When she says, “I’m a black ocean” this is a metaphor used to say that no she isn’t literally a black ocean, but she’s had a hard upbringing and rough life. She says “welling and swelling” which are consonance because they both have the -elling sound. Maya continues to use “wide” and “tide” which are words that rhyme. This part of the poem particularly brings great depth to it and the reader can understand more of the authors pain.
The late Maya Angelou was one of the most influential writers in history. Her kind and fighting nature and willingness to relate and connect made her poetry famous. “Still I Rise” happens to be one of her best and most famous poems to this day. Her usage of literary devices in this poem made it easier to understand and adding much depth to it made it more clearly of what her message was and the pain she endured. Along with the many other devices used, her repetition of the strong quote “And still I rise” is simply telling the audience that no matter what comes her way she was just simply rising above it all and proving everyone wrong about her.