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Explication Essay

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Explication Essay

“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raison in the sun? Or does it fester like a sore- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust over- like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?” This poem by Langston Hughes titled “Harlem” introduces the idea of loss. The loss being a dream put on hold or deferred for some time. Hughes questions what happens to it once it is deferred. Does it dry up, fester like a sore, stink like rotten meat or crust over? Metaphorically, he is asking if over time will a dream become less important and fade away or will it eat away at you if put off for too long. Then it suggests that it might just sag like a heavy load suggesting that it holds you back from your other dreams. He lastly asks if it explodes which would represent a total loss of a dream. Much like the poem “Harlem” the poem “The Slave Auction” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, it projects the feeling of loss. Thou in steed of the loss of a dream, it deals with loosing loved ones not necessarily in death but separation. An example of this form of loss is present in the second paragraph. “And mothers stood with streaming eyes/ And saw their children sold; Unheeded rose their bitter cries/ While tyrants bartered them for gold.” In this part, she describes African American woman crying as their children are being taken from them and sold to the highest bidder. The husband’s cries are also menschen in the fourth paragraph to add on to the feeling of losing their loved ones. She then writes in the last part of the poem, “Ye who have laid your love to rest/ And wept above their lifeless clay/ Know not the anguish of that breast/ Whose lov’d are rudely torn away… Ye may not know how desolate are bosoms rudely forced to part/ And how a dull and heavy weight will press the life-drops from the heart.” She is telling us about the heart break that comes with having your loved ones forced away then laying them to rest. With this she introduces the idea of death. “Ye who have laid your love to rest/ And wept above their lifeless clay…” best represents the idea of death in this poem. Death becomes the theme a gene in the last paragraph of the poem “London”.
“But most through midnight streets I hear how the youthful Harlot’s curse blasts the new-born Infant’s tear/ And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.” Unlike in “The Slave Auction” death doesn’t involve the burial of a loved one. In the poem “London” by William Blake death is represented by a hearse. Over all this poem focuses on two main themes, death and woe. Evidence of this is found in the last sentence of the first paragraph, “…And marks in every face I meet/ Marks of weakness, marks of woe.” It is also present in the second and third paragraphs, “In every cry of every man/ In every Infant’s cry of fear/ In every voice, in every ban/ The mind-forged manacles I hear./ How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry/ Every black’ning Church appalls;/ And the hapless Soldier’s sigh/ Runs in blood down Palace walls.” He is basically saying that the men he sees are morning how things use to be and have sense been almost erased from their minds. Also he is saying that it is affecting everything they do. All of these poems have different meanings, different themes. Thou they may not be of the same year, author or genera they all can be traced back to one theme in the way of their individual themes. There themes all involve loss. They may not directly be loss but from there major themes comes the sub theme of loss.

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