Poetry Explication

Satisfactory Essays
Kendra Hamilton
Block 5
Mrs. Hodges
15 December 2015

Langston Hughes “Harlem” Poetry Explication

The most obvious quality of Langston Hughes’ "Harlem" is the poem’s use of imagery. The imagery in this poem contributes to the image of the frustrating times of how dreams end up for African Americans during this time period. The speaker in the poem describes the fate of a dream being “deferred.” Langston Hughes uses several analogies to describe the image of a dream that might have happened but didn’t. He describes the dream as “drying up like a raisin in the sun” and “festering like a sore.” These uses of similes portray the tone of the poem to be dark and somber. The image of these things invites the reader to feel the speaker’s dreams that just wasted away. "Harlem" consists of eleven lines broken into four stanzas. The first and last stanzas contain one line, while the other two contain seven and two lines respectively. Langston Hughes gives the poem rhythmic feel through his use of alliteration, rhyme, and repetition. More than likely, the speaker is African American and is expressing the feelings and lost dreams of African Americans in Harlem during time of the Harlem Renaissance.
The speaker in this poem feels motivated to question what really happens to the dreams of African Americans that are just pushed away and discarded. In the first analogy Langston Hughes questions if a deferred dream “dries up like a raisin in the sun” (lines 2-3). This is painting the image of a large ripe grape eventually getting old and dried overtime and becoming a raisin because of the heat from the sun. This analogy ties into the dreams of African Americans because during this time period they had hopes and dreams of a better life but the dreams would eventually dry up and become nothing because of the struggles that they endured. He also compares a dream to a “festering sore” (line 4). This use of imagery portrays the image of the pain that a person goes through as they wait

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