Analysis of "Harlem" by American Poet Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes poem “Harlem” is a series of similes describing what happens to a dream that is put off. The first simile in line three, “dry up like a raisin in the sun”, is suggesting that the dream is merely forgotten over time. The second simile (in line four), “fester like a sore”, is suggesting that it eats at you, constantly aggravating you because it has not been obtained. The third (in line six), “stink like rotten meat”, is a suggestion that the dream is making you mad because it has not been reached. The simile in line eight, “sugar over like a syrupy sweet”, suggests that the dream is on the horizon and is so close that it you can taste it. The last simile (in line 10), “sags like a heavy load”, is asking if it is a burden on the dreamer.

Hughes switches from similes to a metaphor in the last line. This metaphor “does it explode”, to me, suggests that the dream has finally been reached, I think that Hughes switched to a metaphor in this line to symbolize the drastic difference from not successfully reaching your dream to obtaining your dream, just as a metaphor is a big difference from a simile.

The citation of the Euphrates, the Congo, the Nile and the Mississippi rivers in Langston Hughes poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” are all referenced to because they were some of the major means of transporting slaves back in the old days. Hughes’ poem is not only about slavery in the United States; his poem is about slavery all over the world. To me, his poem tells the story of how slavery has been known (in some form or another) since the beginning of civilization and how Abraham Lincoln (in the United States) eventually abolished it. I also do not sense any hostility in the poem; I think it is just the undeniable facts of history told as Hughes saw them.

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10 July 2014. Author: Criticism