The Poems of the Harlem Renaissance
I think the poems of the Harlem Renaissance do carry the tradition of
poems with a message. For the three poems that I have studied I have
explained their message and how they made the message. The two poems I
studied which were by the same author were "Harlem" and "As I Grew
Older" they were by Langston Hughes, the other poem was by Countee
Cullen and is called "Any Human To Another".
Langston Hughes' poem "Harlem" has a message that a dream deferred can
only go bad and has negative consequences. Throughout the poem Hughes
uses senses to convey his message these senses are: sight, smell,
taste, hear and touch. ' Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun' this
uses the sense of sight while 'Does it stink like rotten meat?' uses
the sense of smell. These phrases do show he uses he senses but it
also shows he uses imagery.
Hughes uses similes to show the message ' or crust and sugar over-
like a syrupy sweet?' This means that does it go bad and once you go
back to it isn't wanted. Is it disgusting not wanting to see. He uses
imagery on the second to last stanza ' maybe it just sags like a heavy
load.' This can create an image of maybe a bag that is weighed down by
books and holds you back.
We know that the message is once you leave a dream it will never be
the same and that it will go evil and cause death and destruction. We
know this because at the start of the poem Hughes refers to something
from the past ' what happens to a dream deferred?' This means what
happens to a dream delayed as if you've left you had.
Throughout the poem Hughes poses rhetorical questions to the reader
this may make you think he doesn't really know, however this is quite
clever because in his questions they make other more understandable
questions. For example ' or fester like a sore and then run?' This
means does your dream worsen and become infected with horribleness and
The second stanza includes questions, senses and similes. This stanza
conveys the majority of the message in the poem, ' does it dry up like
a raisin in the sun?' meaning once left does it dry out is the
enjoyment sucked out and do you not want to go back to it. ' Does it
stink like rotten meat?' Meaning does it smell is it not approachable.
On the second to last verse Hughes says ' Maybe it just sags like a
heavy load.' Meaning maybe it weighs you down and you carry it around
with you not wanting it. Finally the climax of "Harlem" is 'Or does it
explode?' This is special because Hughes chose to write it in italics,
it means does it eventually wreck you life and destroy you.
The reason why this poem is called Harlem is because of the place
Harlem in New York City. At the time that this poem was written there
was a Renaissance in Harlem, (renaissance means re-birth) Harlem...