I'm not sure about everyone else, but I kind of loved the Langston Hughes readings for this week. Never having read any of his poems, I was slightly blown away by all of his imagery, his historical references, and just the overall tone of the poems. I have to say my favorite was "The Negro Speaks of Rivers." Just read the lines...
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
... and just try to tell me it doesn't conjure up some glorious, historical image in your head. It should.
This work wonderfully ties in modernism and the New Negro Movement. While using a free verse, yet flowing style, he looks back to the past. At the same time, he doesn't make race an issue. Sure, "Negro" is in the title but not mentioning race at all in the poem I think is very significant. He relates to the Euphrates and the Nile, hugely important rivers for the Classical Period of Sumerian and Egyptian culture. His soul is as ancient as these rivers; Hughes seems to be implying that since race was not an issue in human achievements and greatness during the Classical period, it should not be an issue today. His soul was born with these rivers, just like every one elses. And his final river, the Mississippi, I think implies that race should not inhibit overall human greatness in America.
This is just my interpretation, but like all poetry, it could have some vastly different meaning that my blonde-brain somehow missed. If this is all choppy, I apologize. Good literature just gets me all excited.