Dreams

By Langston Hughes

Dreams

Hold fast to dreams A

For if dreams die B

Life is a broken-winged bird C

That cannot fly. B



Hold fast to dreams D

For when dreams go E

Life is a barren field F

Frozen with snow. E

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earl innovators of Jazzy Poetry. Hughes got his B.A. at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. His first published poem was "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" which became his signature poem. Hughes had a great influence on the Harlem Renaissance by his unique poetry ("Langston Hughes").

"Life is a journey, not a destination" -Ralph Waldo Emerson ("Ralph Waldo Emerson")

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(Dream Quotes)

Explication:

Literal: The first stanza says that we must hold onto dreams otherwise life will become broken and depressing. The second stanza says that we must hold on to dreams otherwise life will have no purpose and we will grow bored. These two stanzas both express the same need to hold onto our dreams but differ in the consequence we face if we give up our dreams.

Situation: This poem is not a narrative but rathar an expression of the witers emotions and views. "Dreams" shows the writer's emotions of passion and optimism. The writer seems to be speaking to the general public, having no specific audience. The writer conveys a sense of urgency. The tone is cautionary and caring and the speaker seems passionate about the message he is wishing to convey.

Structure: This poem is broken up into two stanzas. Each stanza is one sentence with a period at the end but there is no punctuation to break up the parts of the sentence. Both stanzas begin with the same phrase, "Hold fast to dreams" followed by a line that personifies dreams. The last two lines of both stanzas elaborate on the theme by the use of a metaphor. The two stanzas seem to mirror one another in that they have almost identical strucure. The title, "Dreams," does not express any emotion, it just describes what the poem is about. The definition of dream is a series of thoughts, images and sensations that occur while sleeping. They can also refer to something one hopes to do in their lifetime.

Language: The language in "Dreams" is short and colluquial although the poem still manages to convey immense meaning and connect with the reader. The word "broken" and "barren" truly stood out to me as powerful words beacuse they express the sorrow of life without dreams to strive for. These words, portray sadness and the message that life is pointless without ambition. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that, "Life is a journey not a destination," meaning that it is more important to set goals and dreams, than to actually achieve them. The writer uses personification to compare life without dreams to life with dreams. This personification is seen in the second line of both poems by saying "Dreams die" and "Dreams go," both in which are human characteristics. In this poem, metaphors are used illustrate how wretched life is without dreams. The metaphor of a bird without wings is used to describe the pitiful life we all face if we give up our dreams and the danger of giving up on our aspirations. The writer then uses the metaphor of "A barren field Frozen with snow" to describe the worthless nature of life without dreams.

Musical Devices: The poem does not follow a specific, repeating rhyme scheme although the second and third line of both stanzas rhyme giving the poem a satisfying flow. I believe that the writer chose not to make everything in the poem rhyme in order to emphasize the seriousness and importance of following our dreams. "Dreams" has a one line refrain at the start of both stanzas that emphasizes the theme of the importance of holding onto our dreams.

Many believe that Langston is attempting to express the disparity between the American Dream and the reality of life for African Americans during the early 20th Century ("Langston Hughes")

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In the picture above, Martin Luther King Jr. is delivering his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. This speech encouraged others to follow their dream for racial equality which is similar to the goals of the writer when composing "Dreams" ("I Have a Dream").

Citations:


  1. Dream Quotes." PixQuotes. Pix&Quotes, n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.
  2. "I Have a Dream" I Have a Dream Speech by Martin Luther King Jr. Brainz, n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.
  3. "Langston Hughes." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
  4. "Ralph Waldo Emerson." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.