The Bitter River

1. Hughes extends the bitter river metaphor into several lines in the poem such as: its gall coats the red of my tongue and mixed with the blood of the lynched boys. These lines suggest that the bitter river poisons him.  List other lines from the poem telling what the bitter river does to him and other Blacks.

Make him disgusted of the look of the river, strangled his dreams, and the reflect of the stars.

2. In the fourth stanza, whose voice is saying, “Wait, be patient.”  What else is the voice telling Hughes to do?  What is Hughes response to the voice?

“Your folks will have a better day.” is the respond to “Wait be patent.”  The voice is telling him to be patient.
3. This poem has several different, even contrasting, tones/moods.  What is the overall tone/mood of the poem?  What other tones/moods come through?

4. Reread the poem.  Which lines strike you, or move you?  Explain why these lines are the most powerful to you or affect you the most.

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