Last Updated 17 Mar 2023

The poems I, Too and The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes Compare & Contrast

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Have you ever read a poem that cached your eye? Ever wondered how that poem is similar to others or different? Perhaps you read a poem about animals, the economy or someone’s feelings. The poems I, Too and The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes, have many important similarities and differences. One could have been when he was young and the other when he was older. He describes what he’s seen and done in The Negro Speaks of Rivers. In the poem I, Too, he describes what he wants to do. In both of these poems they cross a point where it is noticeable what they have in common.

Both have very strong views, along with the positive attitudes that he has towards inequality and discrimination. He attempts to get his voice out so everyone can see what he really wants to say. Also, they have many differences with the things he has done. There are many differences between I, Too and The Negro Speaks of Rivers. In I, Too Hughes expresses more internal than external and he speaks about himself more than speaking about others around him. Secondly, he describes racism and the way he is unequally treated.

They don’t treat him fairly and he has challenges to over come. Therefore, he opens up to what he did and is going to do. He also wants people to notice him more. Hughes, wants to be visible to others, not invisible. Americans should be treated the same and that’s what he says he wants to be treated, the same as others, because he too is American. His tone is surprisingly joyful, hopeful and confident. His feelings as well as his being, are important. He is, he isn’t ashamed of who he is and tries to explain who he is and the actions he wants to take.

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He wants a change in his life and will no longer put up with the situation he is in. Another difference between the two poems is that in The Negro Speaks of Rivers, he is expressing more of an external concerned vs. an internal manner. However, he speaks more about beauty, nature and the world and describes the things he’s seen and wants to see. Hughes, wants to explore and travel the world. He wants to see the things around him. Next, the poet describes the different things he has seen and the places where he has gone.

He, therefore expresses how beautiful the world can be if one goes out an explores; this shows he is more free than before. Hughes, takes on a serious tone and the poem is more formal. Time has passed when he wrote this poem according too, the places and events he has seen with Abe Lincoln and slavery. Hughes, describes the things that have occurred during the time of his life and him seeing everything. There are some similarities between the two poems, I, Too and The Negro Speaks of Rivers. For example, they both talk about the abolishment of slavery. Everyone has the right to be treated equally.

The world can be cruel to everyone but everyone has something to look forward to and live life happily. In both poems, he expresses how in both situations he had obstacles to over come and how the world can come to a change. He had both strong and positive words to express in both poems. According to his poem I, Too “My soul has grown deep like the rivers” he says his soul hasn’t stopped, he continues to fight for what he really wants and he is beautiful no matter what. He also states, “Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed” he says he’s beautiful inside and out.

He wants to show everyone who he really is and says he is both strong and confident. Hughes, is no longer the same man as he was before as he expresses in the line “bathed in the Euphrates. ” He expresses, the lives of African Americans and how they are being treated during that time. In conclusion, although both have many differences, they also have many things in common. Both poems have very strong views and ways to express his feelings. He also had positive views towards both of the poems to get his voice out so everyone can hear and see what he really wants to say.

He expresses the obstacles he has done and wants to do with the challenges he is going to face. In both poem he abolishes slavery and express the way they wanted slavery to be vanished. In both of these poems they cross a point where it is noticeable what they have in common. He describes what African Americans really go through and what they really feel. They came to America for an opportunity not for slavery. As time passed, things had changed along with himself and the world. He did an amazing job to express himself with his writing to get his point across with both poems.

I, Too, Sing America Analysis

Michael Morgan AP English Literature and Composition: Poetry Response10/7/12 In “I, Too, Sing America” Langston Hughes shines light on the rich history of struggle for African Americans in the United States. For example, the text states “I am the darker brother, They send me to eat in the kitchen/ When company comes. ” This shows that as a people, Blacks were marginalized and treated inhumanely simply on the basis of skin color by their Caucasian counterparts.

We were sent to this figurative “kitchen” because Whites were ashamed of us because we did not fit the societal expectations of what it meant to be American. In the Declaration of Independence, the very document that is symbolic of America’s freedom and triumph it states, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. ” Regardless of origin, race, or ethnic makeup, As Americans we are all equals under this text; however, they regarded the existence of Blacks as if we were all children of a lesser God.

The opening lines also illustrate the oppressive nature of white folks. Blacks were forced to eat in the kitchen; there was no option, nor alternative. This shows how we were trained to be subservient and give in to authority without questioning it. Langston Hughes highlights the resilience of Black folk and our ability to remain resolute in times of utter despair. For example, he writes that in the end he will eat, laugh and grow strong.

With the diction “grow strong,” Hughes is foreshadowing that a day will come when the Africans living in America who have been shunned and ostracized from society will stand up in unity and reveal their power to those who have trespassed against them. For centuries we have been mistreated, downtrodden, and dispossessed, but a time will arise where we must all stand together in solidarity to overthrow those who have held us in captivity. This reminds the reader of the antebellum south, where whenever Master had company, he would send his servants to the kitchen to eat.

However in his seclusion, the narrator finds humor. He laughs in the midst of this abysmal situation because he knows that his time to release the shackles that have been inextricably bound to him and his ancestors is imminently approaching. He knows that while his masters can overtake his physical being, his mind cannot be controlled. The narrator has chosen to not let his current circumstance become his condition but to demonstrate the courage and spirit of the Black slave. Hughes’ next few lines are the most elevant, considering the current political and social state of affairs in the United States. For example, the text states that, “Tomorrow, I'll be at the table/ When company comes. Nobody'll dare/ Say to me, "Eat in the kitchen,"/Then. ” This shows that the author was stating that a time would come when Blacks would be seen for who they are as people and not what they look like. This “Tomorrow” refers to a time where Blacks and Whites will be equal. This equality is articulated through the speaker's claim that he, too, will "be at the table" the next time visitors are invited over.

In a historical context, the “tomorrow” that Hughes speaks of has already arrived. With the election of America’s first Black President, centuries of defeat, and agony came to an impasse. Since the first slaves arrived in the New World, Africans have been without. We were without a voice, without human rights, without the freedoms that were promised to all Americans by the architects of our republic. In the final lines, the text states that, “Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am/ And be ashamed-- I, too, am America. Hughes uses America as a symbol of diversity to depict how he is apart his country. Those who have done Blacks wrong should feel shame for the irreparable damage done to innocent people. However, within the last 4 years, a glimpse of what we are capable of has been revealed. We have the ability to succeed, despite the odds that have never been in our favor. We have the audacity to hope in the face of adversity, racism, and discrimination to the highest degrees. We possess the love to pull one another up so that we may progress as a whole.

Poem Analysis “The World is too much with us”- William Wordsworth

In this paper, I will analyze the poem “The world is too much with us” by William Wordsworth. This poem kept my attention since the first I time I read it because of its message. It is a critique poem, it criticizes sociologically the emerging social behavior of the modern societies. The author was influenced by the social context of the time he was writing the poem.

This poem is a sort of call of attention to the population because the people are forgetting the most important values of the human beings. Throughout this paper, I will first introduce the author and his background, next analyze the title, the theme and all the subjects related to the poem, and in the end the theoretical analysis of the poem for instance the symbols, the figures of speech and the structure used by the author in the poem.

“The World is too much with us”

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for every thing, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Biography /Background

To analyze the poem it is requested first to understand the author’s life and background. Like stated in the following passage, “William Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth, Cumberland, in 1770 and died at the age of eighty” CITATION Cha18 l 1033 (Eager). He lived eighty years and left a legacy on English poetry.

He wrote this poem when he was 32 years old, in 1802, and published it in 1807. It was sort of explosion of emotions regarding the consequences of the industrial revolution on people’s way of life in the cities and also in the rural areas where machines replace the hand working job. Connection with Nature has lost. The daily routine, accelerate and most people went live near the industries to work. England, at the time, was constantly changing, innovative ideas bringing new machines and tools, new factories opening and new railroads and all these need people to work on them CITATION And19 l 1033 (Spacey).

The author was sensitive to all changes occurring in the society and he stop to make his reflection about it. Although most of people did not about the situation and their only focus was work, a phenomenon that can be compared to our recent reality. Clearly portrayed in this passage, “Whole families would end up working in the mills and mines. This was a rapid and irreversible change, perhaps equivalent to the digital and globalization revolution of more recent times” CITATION And19 l 1033 (Spacey).


The title “the world is too much with us” can have various interpretations. I will give my two different perspectives that it in my view can be analyzed. The first one is that the world is tired of us (humans) and our presence on it is just to destroy it or take profit from it. In the second one, I understood that the speaker is trying to show us that our ‘world’ or what we care is the opposite of what we should care, we only care about materialistic things, money and power. Thus, that is our world for the speaker perspective.


The theme portrayed in this poem in my perspective has to do with human values and the treatment of nature by humans. The human values are being lost because of the selfishness that exists in the modern societies. As I analyzed in the title people tend to care more with money, material wealth and power. This has to do also with the increasing of capitalist societies since the industrial revolution. Capitalism brings the ‘love’ to money and consequently materialism.

“Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers” in this line the speaker want to call attention to greed. We tend to forget that we are all human beings and we need to look for each other. People only help others seeking for something in return. Like is written on the poem “We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” the speaker emphasizes that humans are not following our hearts in their choices.

The other part is concerned about the nature or the environment. The author highlighted the word nature on the poem putting it in capital letter. “Little we see in Nature that is ours;” the speaker intends to show how humans are not appreciating the beauties of our nature, instead of enjoying it that is free and available for everyone we concern about futile things and possessions.

On the following lines the speaker gives human qualities to some parts of nature to get the reader feel touched by nature for instance: “This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;” “The winds that will be howling at all hours,” “ And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;”. Then, the speaker gives a kind of shout of despair to make the reader realize that humans must change their approach to nature: “For this, for everything, we are out of tune;” humans should be connected with nature and without it we cannot live.

Next, the speaker shows its position regarding the disinterest of people in nature: “Great God! I’d rather be” “A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;” it shows an admiration for the ancient people and religion that were more attentive and mindful of what surround them than the people of its era. It finishes like dreaming, the perfect place where he would gaze the sea and be connected with nature: “So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,” “Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;” The speaker prefers this contact with nature like it used to be in those ancient societies where they would see the sea as something meaningful not just a simple place.

These “glimpses” of nature are like happiness for the speaker. Finally, the poem ends with a clear admiration of the speaker to the sea, showing its preference for the ancient religion citing two ancient gods (Greeks) and how they used to delight the sea. “Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;” “Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.” From its perspective the sea or nature is something divine and not just the denotative or superficial meaning that it has in its era.

Subjects Covered

In this poems many subjects were covered though its size. Within the poem we can find subjects like human values, nature, materialism, greed, selfishness and capitalism. The two first one’s are those are those that the speaker alert the reader as the two subjects that are being undervalued, however, they should be more valued in order to have the proper importance.

The remaining subjects are those that speaker alerts the readers to avoid these behaviors or bad qualities. The speaker empathize that if those subjects are the one that people are following he would like to be born on ancient times or live like they used to in the past. He refuses to practice such ideals or behaviors, because they don’t bring happiness to life or any hope.

Theoretical analysis


  • Nature – The word nature is the central theme of the poem and an important symbol in the poem. The word is written in capital letter to emphasize its importance. The speaker shows a sadness feeling to people’s attitude towards nature.
  • The sea – It may have the same connotation as nature in the poem, still, it has its particularity. It gives more particular meaning to nature, more specific, the sea is characterized as the physical part of nature. As we can see in the poem: “This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;”
  • Pagan – This word symbolizes the ancients’ way of life. Or simply unchristian people that were more connected and moved with nature. People with more steady life, connected with each other and capable of admire what nature provide us.

Figures of Speech

  • Line 5 has Personification – “This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;”- the sea becoming a woman, further evidence is that the speaker refers Mother Nature.
  • Line 6 has Assonance – “The winds that will be howling”
  • Line 7 has a Metonymy – “are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;” here the speaker compares the wind to sleeping flowers.
  • Line 8 has a metaphor – “we are out of tune;” the speaker uses the word “tune” to highlight that people are not following the rhythm, this rhythm is the expected connection of people with nature that did not exist.


Type of poetry - Lyric poem and a sonnet;

Metre - Iambic pentameter

Syllabic metre - Decasyllabic

Rhyme scheme - 14 lines with an unusual scheme of abbaabbacdcdcd


To conclude my analyze, I will sum up my understanding of the poem make this brief comparison of the theme in nowadays context as mentioned before. Through the analysis of this sonnet I realize that spend some time thinking in our behaviors or actions is something that should be done by everyone. If we don’t care for ourselves nobody will. The speaker spread this message through the sonnet, he meant that people should be mindful and enjoy the simple gifts that are provided to us. We cannot let that greed or materialism take off our human spirit. We are not alone in this world, thus, we should live harmony with each other. Greed and materialism will bring only bad consequences for the expected interaction between us.

This poem could clearly fit in nowadays society. Since the emerging of globalization, the world become as is portrayed on the poem. Nowadays, people tend to care more about their material wealth than anything else. People could spend weeks, months and years without their family or friends but never without their phones for instance. Now is even worse than back then because people in the same house don’t even talk to each other.

The electronic devices and internet let people more lazy and superficial on their thoughts. If we spend most of our time connected to these devices how can we be an attentive person, realize what is happening around us or simply adore nature that is a gift to all of us? Nature is a source for us to get what we want and we don’t care about the implications or the consequences that this act. In my perspective, this sonnet should be a ‘bible’ for everyone because we are humans and we should care ourselves and for the Mother Nature.

Works Cited

  • Eager, Charles. "The society of classical poets" . 6 October 2018. 5 june 2019 ;lt;;gt;.
  • Spacey, Andrew. "Owlcation" . 27 January 2019. 2 June 2019 ;lt;;gt;.
The poems I, Too and The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes Compare & Contrast essay

Related Questions

on The poems I, Too and The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes Compare & Contrast

What Message Does The Negro Speaks Of Rivers Express?
The message of The Negro Speaks of Rivers" is one of pride and resilience in the face of oppression. It celebrates the rich history and culture of African Americans, and their connection to the land and the struggles they have overcome."
What Does The Negro Speaks Of Rivers Mean?
The Negro Speaks of Rivers" is a poem by Langston Hughes that celebrates the history and resilience of Black people. It uses the metaphor of rivers to represent the enduring spirit and heritage of African Americans."
What Is The Poem The Negro Speaks Of Rivers About ?
The poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes is about the rich history and resilience of Black people, tracing their connection to rivers throughout time. It celebrates the strength and endurance of Black culture, despite the challenges and hardships faced throughout history."
What Is The Message Of The Poem The Negro Speaks Of Rivers ?
The message of the poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers" is that African Americans have a rich and deep history that is connected to the earth and the natural world. The poem celebrates this history and suggests that it has shaped the identity and resilience of the African American community."
Who Wrote The Poem The Negro Speaks Of Rivers ?
The poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers" was written by Langston Hughes, a prominent African American poet and writer of the Harlem Renaissance. It was first published in 1921 when Hughes was just 19 years old."

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