Harlem is a short and inspirational poem written by Langston Hughes in his title 'Arising in the sun' in 1951 and taught in American schools. In Harlem, Hughes expresses what transpires to the inspiration that is either vanished or suspended. The short brainstorming questions posed over the entire poem allow the audience to reflect on the significant effects of delaying our aspirations. Additionally, the questions provide hints about Hughes' opinions on delayed dreams.
During the early 1950s, racial segregation was still prevalent in America. The immigrants especially African Americans were burdened with the slavery legacy, which depicted them as the second class inhabitants as the law was concerned more so in the South. The quest for change was sparkling up though, Hughes wrote Harlem just three years to the pivotal Supreme Court verdict in a case involving Brown versus Education Board that declared unconstitutional separation of public school for black and white student in the year 1954. Hughes was personally conscious of the challenges he faced as a black, and the character in his work mirrors challenging to experience such as being sympathetic, hopeful, melancholy and enraged.
The poem's title Harlem reflects New York vicinity that suited the heart of Harlem revitalization, a significant artistic of burst in music, literature, and skill art that happened between the periods of the 1910s to 1920s. Several African American families replicate Harlem as an asylum from the recurrent discrimination experiences. Regrettably, Harlem's attraction was worn earlier 1930s when the African American families that had thrived in Harlem became destitute.
Hughes muses about the destiny of a "deferred dream." Though it was not clear what speaker was talking about whether poet, professor or blacks. But the question is a powerful one, and the silence sense features after it. The speaker imagines drying up, crusting over, rotting, stinking or exploding finally. These images are not absolute violent, but a much dark tone to them. Every image is strong enough to allow audience taste, smell and feel these discarded dreams. Hughes addresses a rejected vision and does not fade away, but endures an evolution, showing the decay of physical state.
Harlem does not raise a particular dream. However, he suggests that blacks cannot inspire or dream to great things due to the oppressive environment that ambiances them. Hughes states if the African American dare to dream, their intention will decay and end up rotting or exploding. In the picture imitated by critic author Arthur Davis indicating that Hughes describes hopes, frustrations, inspiration and profoundly rooted dissatisfaction with the New York ghetto, Hughes is expressing the feelings of black ghettos in America.
Harlem is an open form poem consisting of three stanzas that have no regular meter. To engage the attention of the audience, Hughes ensures that specific words and questions are clearly raised. Consequently, the variances of the lengths of the line are used to emphasize syllables. For instance, the initial line of the poem is the longest. The writer begins the poem by questioning, what happens to a dream deferred, gives the audience an instant idea of what the poem entails. It creates the curiosity to the audience by giving the reader an urge to establish the answer to the question.
The final line, "or does it explode?" embraced the use of metaphor. What Hughes entails in the last line is that a postponed dream destroys disturbed emotion reaction or even causes violence. Harlem is also italicized to emphasize more metaphoric by comparing a deferred dream to a bomb. The motion of such dream may continue to build up and having nowhere to go, it finally explodes. In other terms, the anger of dreamer's may cause it to explode into action.
In Harlem, Hughes makes uses of the similes in the day to day life situation to create a sense of what may happen to a deferred dream. There are various potential outcomes. Harlem is popular before the 20th century for being an African American people trouble with poverty and crime. Now it is a business centre and thriving culture facing economic and social resurgence. In the first line, the poem talks about the deferred dream in line one. According to the definition, a deferred dream is a postponed or delayed dream.
At last, the utilization of anaphora which is the repetitions of phrase or words at the beginning of the sequences of sentences assists in highlighting the question to produce the sense of urgency around the phrases or words. The alliteration of consonant sounds, such as "d" sound in the question what happens to the dream deferred? Does it dry up... assists in creating rhythm and stresses on the word and this depicts ideas in the word. Finally, there is the use of hyperbole, somewhat deliberate exaggeration to underline the harshness of the possible consequences of the denying dream.
In conclusion, the analysis of Harlem shows the turbulent decades throughout the years the 1920s to 1960s, where most of the black Americans went through severe hardships establish the comfort only through dreams. The dream especially to the ghetto dwellers, Harlem dreamt about a better place for them, the families as well as what the future holds for them. Then this shows value attributable to dreams for these people.
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