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.

The Deal

“Here’s the deal.

The human soul
doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved.

It simply wants to be witnessed
— to be seen, heard, and companioned exactly as is.

When we make that kind of deep bow
to the soul of a suffering person,
our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources,
the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.”

Parker Palmer

Thank you Lenore Mewton, friend from many years ago, for bringing this Parker Palmer quote to my attention.