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Dream Deferred -- Langston Hughes

Guest poem submitted by Garret M. Lee:
(Poem #1006) Dream Deferred
 What happens to a dream deferred?

 Does it dry up
 like a raisin in the sun?
 Or fester like a sore--
 And then run?
 Does it stink like rotten meat?
 Or crust and sugar over--
 like a syrupy sweet?

 Maybe it just sags
 like a heavy load.

 Or does it explode?
-- Langston Hughes
Not sure what exactly to say about this poem. It's great, sad, and it seems
to give me goose bumps every time I read it. It makes me ask "What is the
American Dream, exactly?" and has it changed since the 1950's when this poem
was written?

Some of you may notice that the play "Raisin in the Sun" got its title from
this poem and the two themes go hand in hand as well. I would suggest that
anyone who hasn't read or seen the play do so, it really is great.


[Minstrels Links]

Langston Hughes:
Poem #410, The Negro Speaks of Rivers
Poem #990, Sea Calm
Poem #1006, Dream Deferred

40 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Priscilla Jebaraj said...

hey, i'd sent in this poem last month too. great to see it on the group.
it's my favourite langston hughes poem. i first read it as a preface to the
play "raisin in the sun". it's a pretty good play, but somehow i've always
liked the poem better. it puts into 11 short lines what the play takes pages
to say.

the images are so graphic, so clear, so expressive, disgusting. you
almost wrinkle up your nose at the stink, taste the sickly sweetness, feel
the dead weight.

and then comes that softly menacing last line...wondering,
lingering...threatening...will it explode?

somehow too, this poem seems to me to express something about world events
today. aren't so many of the terrorist attacks of today, the explosion of a
dream deferred?


Abi Luftig said...

This is one of my favourite poems of all times. And as such, I feel the need
to correct all of you. The true title of this poem is not "Dream Deferred".
It is called "Harlem". Hence it is a little easier to decipher what Hughes
is talking about.

gaglerm said...

Well, actually the original title was Harlem, but it was
changed to A Dream Deferred, and I've been trying to
research and find out if it was changed back or when it was
changed and I came across this web page. I must say I
like what you all have to say, I'm writing a paper for my
rhetoric and discourse class about the discourse in this
poem, and how Hughes uses expressive language for
persuasive purposes...starting with the original title

TrishaCastillo said...

In some editions of Hughes's poetry the title of this poem is "Dream
Deferred," not "Harlem." It actually makes a difference on how the poem is read if
the reader has no background knowledge of Hughes or the Harlem Renaissance.

Chris Thatcher said...

nope it is both "Harlem (A Dream Deferred)"

Anonymous said...

since u guys r talkin so much about d poem...can any one of you write d summary of it?

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