by Langston Hughes
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Literally, the speaker is saying to not let go of dreams because once you do, you will not be able to move further on in life.
The speaker is giving life tips and advice to the audience. The speaker could be Langston Hughes himself, most likely aiming his advice to younger people, being that they are less likely have given up on life already. Also, the speaker had to have had given up on a dream himself in order to know the experience well enough to write a poem about it.
The poem has eight lines, each line being only a few words. This is actually appropriate because the point that the speaker is trying to get across is very straight forward and simple: do not give up on dreams. The poem is in traditional form. It starts with the main advice, “Hold fast to dreams”, and then uses a metaphor, relating it to a “broken-winged bird”. Then the poem repeats itself, however this time the metaphor relates a given up dream to a “barren field / Frozen with snow”. There are two sentences in this poem, each which consist of four lines, which could illustrate that they both have basically the same idea. Because this poem has to sentences, that means there are two periods and (because there are no commas) that means that lines 4 and 8 are end - stopped and enjambment is shown in lines 1 - 3 and 5 - 7. The title is Dreams, which obviously directly relates to the poem.
The language of this poem is pretty simple. I just did not know what “barren” meant so I looked it up; it means, in connotation to fields, lacking vegetation, so essentially empty and plain. The speaker uses many negative words to steer the audience away from giving up on dreams such as “die”, “broken-winged”, and “barren”. There are no allusions in this poem (or at least that I know of). Although the speaker uses simple words, he created a substantial amount of imagery, with phrases such as “broken-winged bird” and “a barren field / Frozen with snow”.
The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABCB.ADED. This form provides for a very simple and straight forward message. There is also repetition where it says “Hold fast to dreams” and then provides a metaphor each time. Other than that, there are not many musical devices in this poem.