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Nature and the Human Soul

Langston Hughes uses nature in several dimensions to demonstrate the powerful struggles and burdens of human life. Throughout several of Langston Hughes poems, the sweeping imagery of the beauty and power of nature demonstrates the struggles the characters confront, and their eventual freedom from those struggles. Nature and freedom coexist, and the characters eventually learn to find freedom from the confines of society, oneself, and finally freedom within ones soul. The use of nature for this purpose brings the characters and speakers in Hughes works to life, and the reader feels the life and freedom of those characters. Nature, in the works of Hughes serves as a powerful symbol that represents the struggle of the human soul towards freedom, the anguish of that struggle, and the joy when that freedom is finally reached. In Langston Hughes poetry, nature serves as a strong symbol for triumphs and defeat of the soul. He uses the imagery of rivers to demonstrate the speaker's connection with the earth and nature in his poem. The Negro Speaks of Rivers. In this poem, the speaker in the poem has known Rivers; he speaks of rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. Rivers symbolize the lifeline of the earth. When the speaker refers to the rivers, he is reflecting on his connection with the earth. He feels a part of the earth, and it is almost as if his soul is kindred to the earth when he says, "My soul has grown deep like the rivers." In this poem, Langston Hughes uses the imagery and symbolism of rivers as an expression of the oneness between the soul and the earth. The speaker's soul is united with nature; he is like a river in that he is connected with earth, nature, and himself. In the poem "Sun Song", by Langston Hughes, there is a similar expression of the affinity between man and earth, yet a subtle contrast exists. In this poem, nature is not viewed as wholly perfect. The speake...

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