Langston Hughes: from “Montage of a Dream Deferred”

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?

Langston Hughes


~ by matt on 12 February 2008.

6 Responses to “Langston Hughes: from “Montage of a Dream Deferred””

  1. We are studying Labgston Hughes in my high school AP Language and Composition class. My partner and I have been required to disect this particular poem. I loved it until now, because when you truly delve into its imagery it looses its purpose. So just a forewarning if you like this poem don’t think too hard on it.

  2. Hi Samantha, I really really really appreciate your comment for its honesty and insight. I think your comment points toward a more general “problem” (perhaps a problem of perception?) with respect to what we’re taught about poems and how we’re expected to react to them. I will post a more general reaction to this more general issue, using your excellent closing line.

    As far as this famous poem by Langston Hughes is concerned, may I suggest you ask yourself: what made me love it originally? (This is a most beloved American poem. I love it, and so does Danny Glover!) If you write down the things you loved about it (and no one can tell you what those are), you might then write down what’s happened to cause you to not love it. (You’ve suggested the close analysis of its imagery). Write that down too.

    Wait 10 years, and reread the poem and your notes. See where time has left this poem for you. I know this is probably not helpful for your immediate needs. But the exercise may one day leave you surprised. The idea is not that you’ll necessarily love the poem down the road, but the distance may help you grasp the “betrayal” that separates “once loved” and “not loved.” Just a thought.

    If you have time to respond, I’m very interested in hearing why the analysis of the imagery makes you feel the poem has lost its purposes. Meanwhile, thanks very much for commenting, Matt

  3. i really like the poem! I think that it has a very meaningful purpose and a good message 🙂

  4. Hope deferred can be all of that mixed up or individual. The Bible says hope deferred makes the heart sick and all of those will. I like the poem. It can help you reflect and regroup.

  5. We do not stop dreaming over the years, but we often push them deeper than our troubles or onto the back burner to simmer. True, a pot left to simmer too long will dry to crust. But the crust of the dreams remain. Can we find the time or the energy to scrape? Or do we just toss the pot? How do we know when it can no longer salvage it? Do we dare attempt gravy?

  6. hi

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Natalie E. Illum...

is a poet, performer and disability activist. Bring her stumbling to your city.

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