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Harlem

Harlem

by Langston Hughes

What happens to a Dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Summary of Harlem

  • Popularity of “Harlem”: This short poem is written by Langston Hughes, a renowned American poet, novelist, and playwright. “Harlem” is a thought-provoking literary piece about dreams and plans. It was first published in 1951. The poem illustrates what could happen if our dreams are not fulfilled on time. It speaks about the fate of dream shelved, including hopelessness.
  • “Harlem” As a Representative of Hopelessness: The poet narrates his disappointment of deferred dreams. The poem begins with a question as he compares the dreams or goals with a raisin, meat, and sweets. The poet has used these analogies to evoke the image of a postponed dream. Each image enables the reader to feel what exactly has happened to the speaker’s dream and the impact left on his mind. The description shows that his vision does not vanish so easily; instead, it goes through specific processes before reaching the actual state of decay.
  • Major Themes in “Harlem”: Delay, sadness, and dreams are the major themes of this poem. The poem speaks about the oppression of African-Americans. The tone suggests that their goals always remain unapproachable and lose their meanings. The speaker feels the burden of these dreams, saying when the burden becomes unbreakable, it will explode. On a deeper level, the poet is talking about the people having big ideas, but life never allows them to make their dreams a reality. The same is the case with African Americans. They wanted to liberate themselves from the clutches of racism, but the supremacy of whites did not allow them.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Harlem”

Literary devices are tools that the writers use to enhance the meanings of their texts and to allow the readers to interpret it in multiple ways. Langston Hughes has also employed some Literary Devices in this poem to express his ideas. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /e/ in “Does it stink like rotten meat” and the sound of /o/ in “Or fester like a sore.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /n/ in “like a raisin in the sun”.
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “like a raisin in the sun”, “Does it stink like rotten meat” and “Or does it explode.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between different objects or persons. For example, “Or does it explode?” Here the poet compares broken dreams with a bomb.
  3. Simile: It is a figure of speech used to compare something with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. For example, “Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”, “Does it stink like rotten meat” and “like a syrupy sweet.” Here are the broken dreams are compared to decaying food items.
  4. Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a sentence which is posed to make the point clear. For example, “Or does it explode? “And “Does it stink like rotten meat?”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Harlem”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. This is a short poem consisting of eleven lines with no stanza break.
  2. End Rhyme: End Rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “meat/sweet” and “sun/run.”
  3. Rhyme Scheme: There is no particular rhyme scheme in this poem. However, the first four lines consist of the ABCB rhyme scheme.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below, and also the entire poem is suitable to use by the people longing for freedom.

“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?”

The post Harlem appeared first on Literary Devices.



This post first appeared on Literary Devices | Definition And Examples Of Lite, please read the originial post: here

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