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"Coming to America: Focus on one of two poems and discuss what the author seems to be trying to say about the movement of his or her people from Africa to America"
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The poem speaks about the soul of a black who shares his African experience in the lines: “I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep. I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.” The ancient time that the speaker recalls was the time when the white race was slave to the Egyptians who used to build pyramids. The Mississippi River is a symbol of human blood that encompasses all the races. The American experience is also highlighted in the poem when the speaker claims: “I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln / went down to New Orleans . . .” Lincoln is a reminder to the readers of the time of liberation of slaves.
Hughes as the voice of the speaker in the poem repeats the line “My soul has grown deep like the rivers” because the soul is the essence of one’s life and the person who is successful enough to recognize his soul manages to recognize his own identity. The depth in which the poet takes the readers is worth appreciating and has a lasting impact on the socio-historical perspective of life which was dominant in those days. For him the bond of humans is the connection through the souls which were essentially the same because everyone is linked by blood as creatures of God. He eliminates the racial discrimination in a transcendental style. He connects himself to the cosmos and looks beyond his biological existence in the times when people killed each other because of status and creed.
The link of the speaker to all the races blends him with the others as a non-existent being who has a great influence on everyone. The soul and the heritage of the African-American community is fully merged to the great rivers in Africa, America and the Middle East which makes links of the community to the birth of civilization. In this manner the poem is more of a tale about the journey of the Africans from freedom to enslavement and then it recollects
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