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8/08/2019

The roots of the Negroes do you derive from your study of the poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"?




The word "root" in the singular means the part of a plant or tree, etc, which is normally in the soil and takes food from it and "roots" in the plural means the origins, "the feelings or connections that you have with a place because you have lived there or your family came from there" "(Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary)". The roots of the Negroes means what is defined as roots in the above-mentioned dictionary. In the poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" the theme of roots is prominent, through implication, though not through explication. The images used in the poem give us a sense of the roots of the Negro race. The readers can have some ideas of the roots of the race of Negroes from a deeper understanding of the images.

In the very beginning of the poem, the speaker says, "I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in the human veins". The image of the rivers ancient as the world immediately conjures up the idea that the ancient rivers are as old as the world itself, that is, created as soon as the world was created, or created along with 'the world. The conjoint image of "the flow of human blood in human veins" sets up a parallel between the flow of the rivers in the world and flow of blood in the human veins. The rivers provide vitality to the plants and animals of the world, and the veins supply blood to the human body. By these images the poet means to say that the rivers are like the roots or the source of life to
plants and animals, as blood is the root or main source of life for the
human beings.

The image of the sentence; "I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young," suggests that the "I", the speaker in the poem, who represents the whole of the race of Negroes of all times and places, bathed in the Euphrates which saw the beginnings of the creation of the earth. The Negroes have been associated with the ancient civilizations, as the word "bathed" metaphorically indicates.

The next images of looking upon the Nile and raising the pyramids, suggests the speaker's having looked upon the river Nile, and the raising of the pyramids in Egypt. This happened thousands of years ago. The speaker heard of the singing of the Mississippi in America when Abe Lincoln conceived of the idea of abolition of slavery in America. This was like a golden ray of light for the dark world of slavery.

The speaker concludes by saying, "My soul has grown deep like the rivers". The image gives us the idea that the rivers, when they originated, remain shallow. But they grow deeper and stronger with the passage of time. The soul of the speaker, that is, the soul of the
Negroes as a race has grown deeper and stronger through centuries.
Thus the poet indirectly talks about the roots or source of the race of Negros since the very beginning of human history.

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