The Negro Speaks of Rivers

"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" sets the text of Langston Hughes. The poem was first published in June of 1921 in Crisis, the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP.

Date: 1941Composer: Margaret BondsText: Langston Hughes

Print vitals & song text

Text

The Negro Speaks of Rivers
by Langston Hughes

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.

Related Information

Videos

Audio

Track:

    Books

    Sheet Music

    Anthology of Art Songs by Black American Composers, Compiled by Willis C. Patterson

    Composer(s): H. Leslie Adams, David Baker, Margaret Bonds, Charles Brown, Cecil Cohen, Noel de Costa, Mark Fax, Adolphus C. Hailstork, Eugene Hancock, Thomas Kerr, Jr., Charles Lloyd, Jr., Wendell Logan, Maurice McCall, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Undine Smith Moore, Robert Owens, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Florence Price, Hale Smith, William Grant Still, Howard Swanson, George Walker, Olly Wilson, John Work, Jr.

    Song(s): For You There is No Song (Leslie Adams)
    Early in the Mornin' (David Baker)
    A Good Assassination Should Be Quiet (David Baker)
    Status Symbol (David Baker)
    Three Dream Portraits: Minstrel Man; Dream Variations; I, Too (Margaret Bonds)
    The Barrier (Charles Brown)
    Song Without Words (Charles Brown)
    Death of an Old Seaman (Cecil Cohen)
    Two Songs for Julie Ju (Noel da Costa)
    Cassandra's Lullaby (Mark Fax)
    Love (Mark Fax)
    A Charm at Parting (Adolphus C. Hailstork)
    I Loved You (Adolphus C. Hailstork)
    Absalom (Eugene Hancock)
    Nunc Dimittis (Eugene Hancock)
    Riding to Town (Thomas Kerr, Jr.)
    Compensation (Charles Lloyd, Jr.)
    If There Be Sorrow (Wendell Logan)
    Marrow of My Bone (Wendell Logan)
    Chanson Triste (Maurice McCall)
    Sweet Sorrow (Maurice McCall)
    Weary Blues (Dorothy Rudd Moore)
    Love Let the Wind Cry...How I Adore Thee (Undine Moore)
    Faithful One (Robert Owens)
    Genius Child (Robert Owens)
    A Child's Grace (Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson)
    Melancholy (Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson)
    Night (Florence Price)
    Song to the Dark Virgin (Florence Price)
    Velvet Shoes (Hale Smith)
    Grief (William Grant Still)
    A Death Song (Howard Swanson)
    I Will Lie Down in Autumn (Howard Swanson)
    The Negro Speaks of Rivers (Howard Swanson)
    Lament (George Walker)
    A Red, Red Rose (George Walker)
    Wry Fragments (Olly Wilson)
    Dancing in the Sun (John Work, Jr.)
    Soliloquy (John Work, Jr.)

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Support us and help us grow

    Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.