On Growing Deep, More From Langston Hughes

I suppose that one of the things that appeals to me in this poem, is that it witnesses a soul growing deep. It speaks to another kind of time, soul time. It speaks to what cannot in the end, be taken — soul.

That, and, it’s written by Langston Hughes, a black poet of the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 60s.

It is my sense that these times, these 2020s, insist on more of us to grow deep, and to notice closely the scars gained by others in growing deep. Sometimes in a person. Sometimes in a people.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

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.

Who But The Lord, by Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was a poet and writer of the 1900s. His poetry lended strength and truth to the civil rights movement of the 1950s.

I’ve been reading some of his poems lately, pointing to race injustice and race inequity that was then in his time, and, that is now, at the roots of broad protest and demonstration.

I’m encouraged to think that we are in the time of “We’ll see” rising up in broad support, to create awareness, healing, and changed streets.

Who But The Lord
by Langston Hughes

I looked and I saw
That man they call the Law.
He was coming
Down the street at me!
I had visions in my head
Of being laid out cold and dead,
Or else murdered
By the third degree.

I said, O, Lord, If you can,
Save me from that man!
Don’t let him make a pulp out of me!
But the Lord he was not quick.
The Law raised up his stick
And beat the living hell
Out of me!

Now I do not understand
Why God don’t protect a man
From police brutality.
Being poor and black,
I’ve no weapon to strike back
So who but the Lord
Can protect me?

We’ll see.