The Weary Blues (1926) clearly introduced Hughes's enduring themes and established his own style. It was his seemingly casual style that reflects the simplicity and the sincerity of the blacks. Among many poems, The Negro Speaks of Rivers became Hughes's signature poem.
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.(2)
The poem is a historical painting of the Negroes and their contribution to the establishment of civilization. Rivers are always the source of life and communities throughout the world. The poem demonstrates the equality of the Negros to other races; it speaks of the blacks’ ability to move forward in the future. The final line “My soul has grown deep like the rivers” fully expresses Hughes’ pride of his people with the deep soul like the rivers. The blacks are part of the history and part of the nature. The poem effectively shows the contributions of the Negroes through history. They are equal to everyone.
Hughes places emphasis on the theme "black is beautiful" in multiple levels. His main concern was to elevate his people by recording their courage, humor, and spirits in his writings. His poetry and fiction portrayed the lives of the working class African Americans. He penetrated his work with the black vernacular speech pattern as an identity and a pride to be black. "My seeking has been to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America and obliquely that of all human kind," (3)Hughes said. He sought to reeducate both audience and artist by “lifting the theory of the black aesthetic into reality”(4). My People is a good example of this.
The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.
The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people
Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.(5)
The poem demonstrates the beauty of the blacks. Hughes portrayed his people poetically