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Racial Pride and Optimism in Langston Hughes Poetry Being of mixed race much of Langston Hughes poetry deals with the struggles of living in America as a minority or in his case as an African American Some of his early poetry can be read as more optimistic regarding the plight of his race and the oppression they experienced than most African Americans would tend to think during the early 20th century with a voice that seemed to be uniquely of his own background--not of the dominant white voice but one that came out of an African American heritage This optimistic voice can be heard in four of Hughes poems in which he deals with topics such as racial pride and the everyday lives of African Americans The Negro Speaks of Rivers I Too Mother to Son and Ballad of the Landlord One of Hughes first poems The Negro Speaks of Rivers punctuates his unique voice as an African American through its free-verse form This poem sets the stage for Hughes optimist outlook on life as he writes about the collective experience of his ancestors The rivers Hughes speaks of in the poem range from those in the land of his ancestors in Africa such as the Euphrates and the Congo to rivers he himself has experienced in America like the Mississippi From these rivers Hughes is able to draw spiritual strength and personal identity as he reflects on the roots that have grown wide and spread to America to give him his own life a life that he seems to be grateful for The Negro Speaks of Rivers begins with the Euphrates one of the most ancient rivers known then works its way through the Congo the Nile and finally the Mississippi--a full circle of life for the waters of these rivers gave African Americans their life This tracing of the movement of black life takes the reader far back in time when
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