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. Hug...
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...tions to get them to this point.
Hughes' expressed a feeling of intense disdain of deferring dreams. Through this poem he is trying to convey to the readers that postponing dreams is not a good idea. In addition, when you have the chance to acquire your dreams take advantage of it while the option is available. "Harlem" was published in 1951, during a time when there was racial inequality. The title of the poem, "Harlem" shares the same name of the city where Hughes was recognized for being one of the key figures during the Harlem Renaissance.
Rampersad, Arnold and Roessel, David The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes.
Alfred A. Knopf Inc.: The Haddon Craftmen (1995): 3-20.
Roberts, Edgar V and Jacobs, Henry E. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing.
6th ed. Upper Saddle: Prentice Hall (2000): 787.
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