This week I was selected to do this week’s forum on a poem written by Langston Hughes called, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” As I learn about the different critical approaches, I have related the historical critical lens and the reader – response critical lens to this poem. Historical criticism refers to a piece of literature that symbolizes as a product of the time that is was written. In relation to “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” Langston Hughes uses diction that allows the reader to imagine that this story was written during the Renaissance. This poem has a jazzy flow to it. “I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins” (Langston, 1). Reading this poem gives me perspective on the time frame of when he wrote this, which brings me to why I believe the reader – response criticism is relevant to “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” Reader – response is the type of criticism that refers to the how the words makes the reader feel. Not everyone who reads a piece of literature that they feel they can connect on. When Hughes says, “I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it,” I know he was referring to his African ancestors, his roots.
I feel that the most suitable critical lens for this poem is reader – response because the after feeling that I feel from reading the story. I feel that aspect of the poem makes it much stronger and more powerful because it empowers and motivates a particular group of people. This poem encourages diversity.