Harlem poetry is one of the outputs of the Harlem Renaissance period in American History. During these times, African-Americans started to have a growing influence in politics, literature, music, culture, and society all over the country. It was also a time characterized by oppression and racial discrimination, and these societal issues fueled the Harlem poetry. Because of discrimination and oppression towards African-Americans, the themes of Harlem poetry revolved around hatred and injustice.
Langston Hughes’ “A Dream Deferred” is good example of Harlem poetry, as it talks about a dream that was not realized because of oppression and injustice. A common theme of Harlem poetry is one’s pain and suffering. This could be attributed to the African-American proponents of Harlem Renaissance, who clearly suffered and experienced pain brought about by their society (World Class Poetry, 2008).
Remember, this is the time when people openly discriminate minorities especially the blacks or the African-Americans.
Their history of slavery and discrimination were enough to fuel their works expressed in art, literature, and a lot more. Their feelings about the social injustice enabled them to create literary works that appeal to the readers because it is filled with emotion. This feeling of injustice and discrimination is evident in Hughes’ poem. Hughes’ “A Dream Deferred” talks about what happens when a dream is not realized. The author presents several outcomes which he describes using metaphors (Hughes, 1996).
The American Dream I always thought that the American dream was just about owning my own house and raising a family; but in truth, it isn’t. “The American dream I believe in now is a shared one. It’s not so much about what I can get for myself; it’s about how we can all get by together.” Eve Birch; “The Art of Being A Neighbor” Owning your own home and having all those fancy gadgets ...
He talks about drying up like a raisin in the sun, or stinking like a rotten meat.
His descriptions were manifestations of the author’s emotions on the topic of his poem. This “dream deferred” could be the freedom and recognition that is being denied to the African-Americans by the society they live in. The consequences brought about by the author are real. Drying up like a raisin in the sun could mean growing old and getting forgotten. Despite efforts to be recognized and be accepted by the society, African-Americans are overlooked and ignored despite the potentials that they possess.
Running and festering like a sore could mean the worsening treatment of the society towards their kind. Instead of being recognized as equals, they’re treated more as nuisances and problems that society has to get rid of. In the end, their case would stink like a rotten meat because the society full of white men, never really cared for them. All their efforts got spoiled, without getting any chance to prove them (Grime, 2007).
The sentiments of Harlem poetry are evident in Hughes’ poem.
Every unjust treatment, every discriminative and oppressive act, every time they get ignored, all of these somehow boils down to a sagging societal burden. At the end part of the poem, the author likens a dream deferred to a sagging heavy load. This could be the end of the line for them, as they’re treated like a burden to the society. However, the author also offers an alternate ending; a dream deferred could also explode. This would mean that all the pain and the suffering would all go back to society.
A dream that is not realized because of oppression and injustice could certainly explode back to the society. Works Cited: Grime, L. S. (2007).
Hughes’ Harlem – A Dream Deferred. Retrieved April 19, 2009, from http://poetry. suite101. com/article. cfm/hughes___harlem__a_dream_deferred_ Hughes, L. (1996).
A Dream Deferred. Retrieved April 19, 2009, from http://www. cswnet. com/~menamc/langston. htm World Class Poetry. (2008).
Harlem Renaissance Poetry. Retrieved April 19, 2009, from http://www. world-class-poetry. com/Harlem_Renaissance. html