April 3, 2007

Two poems by Langston Hughes

Posted in Poetry at 8:00 am by The Lizard Queen

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.

–Langston Hughes, 1926

(note: lines 2 (“I’ve known rivers… human veins”) and 7 (“I heard the singing… all golden in the sunset”) are longer than the page is wide, and so ought to be indented after the soft returns, but I can’t figure out how to get WordPress to do that, and my compulsive self is thus rather irritated…)


Big Boy came
Carrying a mermaid
On his shoulders
And the mermaid
Had her tail
Beneath his arm.

Being a fisher boy,
He’d found a fish
To carry—
Half fish,
Half girl
To marry.

–Langston Hughes, 1959



  1. luaphacim said,

    Here’s one possible way to do the second-line indent deal; I’m not sure how WordPress will handle these tags, but they’re standard HTML, I think, so they should be ok.

    Long line of poetry
    longer part that doesn’t fit

    Here’s the code for that (remove the spaces):

    Long line of poetry
    longer part that doesn’t fit

  2. luaphacim said,

    Grrr… it cleaned my tags up. >:-(

  3. pavlov112 said,

    I wonder if you simply need to escape the HTML reserved characters, even in comments?

    Let’s try. The following character should be a less-than sign: <

  4. pavlov112 said,

    Cool. Anything that would be treated as HTML-reserved characters just needs to be entered as the appropriate escape sequence to tell the browser “render me as character data, NOT HTML”.

    Example: ‘<‘ can be specified as ‘&lt;’

    You can find a complete list here.

    (Apologies if I’m being pedantic and going over stuff you already know. I don’t always have good things to contribute to LQ’s other discussions, so I kind of jump on the chance to contribute to the techie tangential conversations.)

  5. luaphacim: I think part of the problem here is the template I’m using: the line “longer part that doesn’t fit” was indented in the version of your comment that was e-mailed to me, but obviously it’s not indented here. (Or at least *I* don’t see it as indented… my brain is starting to hurt…)

    pavlov: *blink, blink* No worries about “being pedantic and going over stuff [I] already know”–I think I get what you’re saying, but I’m really having to work for it. I think it comes back to the template, though, because when I was able to get WordPress’s code entry section to recognize ‘&nbsp’, the spaces showed up in the preview screen but not on the actual page. So… my brain can’t get me any further than that, but you can probably get there. πŸ™‚

    Also, to both of you: I started to refer to one of you as “M,” but then realized that fits you both. I apologize if that’s caused any confusion in the past…

  6. pavlov112 said,


    I was actually apologizing to luaphacim. I assumed that you already knew some of this stuff given our earlier conversations.

    And you know me. I assume that anything that could be intended for me is intended for me. It’s. all. about. me. πŸ™‚

  7. pavlov112 said,

    Oh, and WordPress could really benefit from a comment preview button. There. I said it.

  8. I was actually apologizing to luaphacim. I assumed that you already knew some of this stuff given our earlier conversations.

    Oopsies, my bad. πŸ™‚

  9. luaphacim said,

    tee hee… I used to know that, pavlov, and would have been mortally offended if anyone presumed to pedanticize (of COURSE it’s a word!) me about it — or anything else related to HTML, ASCII, or other knowledge too arcane for the masses — but time has passed, and my knowledge has become rusty, and I have grown too weary in spirit to do anything but admire those who clearly know more than I. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your tech know-how!

  10. pavlov112 said,

    Mmm… ASCII…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: