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Harlem, An Analysis Of A Langston Hughes Poem

1527 words - 6 pages

Harlem, An Analysis of a Langston Hughes Poem

The short but inspirational poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes addresses what happens to aspirations that are postponed or lost. The brief, mind provoking questions posed throughout the poem allow the readers to reflect--on the effects of delaying our dreams. In addition, the questions give indications about Hughes' views on deferred dreams.

"Harlem" is an open form poem. The poem consists of three stanzas that do not have a regular meter. To catch the reader's attention, the writer made sure that specific words and questions stood out. As a result, the lengths of the lines vary and certain syllables are stressed in every line. The first line in the poem: is the longest line, it is separated from the rest of the poem, and it grabs the reader's attention. The last line in the poem: is separated from the rest of the poem, is italicized to show the importance of this particular question, enables the reader to envision the consequences of putting of a dream. The poem has a rhyme scheme of abcbc ded eff. The poet chose not to use a consistent rhythmic pattern. For example, sun and run (lines three and five), meat and sweet (lines six and eight), and load and explode (lines ten and eleven) were the only lines that contained exact rhyming. The assonances noted were the words: sun and run (lines three and five) and meat and sweet (lines six and eight). In addition, the words dream deferred (line one) and syrupy sweet (line eight) are the alliterations that were used.

Concrete imagery and similes are utilized throughout the poem. The concrete imagery arouses the reader's fives senses--as a result they get a better insight of what the poem is conveying. Hughes compares a dream that is postponed: to a raisin that is dried up, to a sore, to meat that has rotted, and to the sweetness of syrup. The last line, "Or does it explode?" (11) is an example of a metaphor. The writer implies that a postponed dream--destroys, causes a violent or even disturbing emotional reaction.

Langston Hughes was a successful African-American poet of the Harlem renaissance in the 20th century. Hughes' had a simple and cultured writing style. "Harlem" is filled with rhythm, jazz, blues, imagery, and evokes vivid images within the mind. The poem focuses on what could happen to deferred dreams. Hughes' aim is to make it clear that if you postpone your dreams you might not get another chance to attain it--so take those dreams and run. Each question associates with negative effects of deferred dreams. The imagery from the poem causes the reader to be pulled in by the writer's words.

The speaker opens the poem by questioning, "What happens to a dream deferred?" (1). This single line instantly gives the reader an idea of what the poem is about. The first question produces curiosity in the reader--makes the reader want to find the answer to the question.

"Does it dry...

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