Langston Hughes: Dream Variations

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Langston Hughes, an extraordinary figure in the Harlem Renaissance when many African writers and poets emerged (Poquette), shows his style and personal characteristics through his poem “Dream Variations” Written in 1924 when the Back to Africa movement was gaining strength. This poem is used to describe Hughes’ dream, which many say may be to return to Africa. During this time, African Americans still did not have respect in America and Africa to Hughes was a warm and inviting place. There is no rhythmic structure to this poem. The poem’s structure is similar to that of blues music, with the first, second, and fourth lines of each stanza parallel each other in that they each have four syllables, while the third is extended and longer to build an emotional climax. Like many of Hughes’ poems, “Dream Variations” is mainly written for children to encourage them and stress the possibilities life holds. This poem was very understandable and easy to read with simple sentences and words. This was written in that manner so that uneducated people or younger people could feel equal to everyone else, no less.

From beginning to end Langston Hughes he uses the same words but gives them different meaning. The poem’s tone transforms during the poem. “To whirl and to dance” (Line 3) and “Till the white day is done” (Line 4) use the same words whirl, dance, day as in lines 12 and 13. In the later lines the speakers tone is harsher, frantic and turns into a command. “Dance!” (Line 12) is a command unlike how in line 3 it sounds as though the speaker is dancing to rejoice and celebrate. The poem in the beginning is very calm and just going through the motions but later on the speaker realizes that life is running out and each day is passing by. The reference of darkness and night in positive terms can actually be considered a subtle celebration of African Americans. In all of Hughes’ poems he creates pictures of pride in blackness. The main theme of this pofem...
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