Harlem Poem Langston Hughes Analysis
Langston Hughes was titled as the African American poet laureate of democracy for his nature of writing which was inclined to native culture, Actually the poet was made parallel to Walt Whitman for his sense of invoking the common African people. In the beginning of the 1930s Hughes poem started to reflect the growing interest in the Marxism and the changes that he visualized in the society gave a pure convulsion to his poetry.
Langston Hughes’ Harlem should be analyzed from the political and social point of view. The thinking mind of the poet inclined to draw the suffered picture of the African Americans. Before Hughes, Walt Whitman wrote the gleaming picture of the American civil war. In this poem ‘O Captain! My Captain!‘ the journey of Abraham Lincoln was duly registered. Sanders was also following the same way. Mainly the contemporary social situation was volatile and vociferous. The intensity of the crammed period was assessed by Langston Hughes in his poem.
The two poems ‘Harlem‘ and ‘O Captain! My captain!‘ are thematically interlinked to each other. The struggle that Whitman had shown here in the poem was outwitted in the poem, Harlem by Langston Hughes. Harlem is a place in America which was mainly African based. Their adult franchise was restored by the dire struggle of the former captain of America Abraham Lincoln but here the outcome of the struggle was no longer in fruitful condition. They had to suffer due to their social injustice and they had to feel a social insecurity in terms of their social rights.
In 1950s the civil rights were transferred to American racial consciousness. However, Hughes’ work remained duly successful among the contemporary avid readers. In spite of that some of the contemporary African American intellectuals thought his work outdated. Donald P Gibson referred in his work, Modern Black Poets: A collection of Critical essays that Hughes was different from predecessors among black poets. The speaker, Hughes simply says that what ultimately happens to a deferred dream. Here the poet imagines the dream of the African Americans to be the different ranges. He thinks that if the dreams of the people dry up then it becomes equivalent to raisin of the sun or it smells like sugar crust or stinks like stall meats,
“Or crust and sugar over
like a syrupy sweet?”
The poet displays the picture in the poem which subsequently falls on the part of the Africans. Every certain human being has certain dream in himself. But when they cannot see their dreams fulfilled, and then their world of living gets subservient. Here, in the poem Langston Hughes says that the deferred dreams of the Africans living in then America smell like rotten meats. It simply signifies their social status as well as their reputation verbally they were socially cornered.
This short poem questions and the same time, answers also in its imaginative way. There are total eleven lines in the poem with an inconsistent rhyming scheme-abcdbefegh. Here by the terms, ‘Raisin in the Sun’ the poet means that a fruit which was once juicy and nutritious now it has become dry and monotonous. A flesh wound is a symbol of illness which once was neglected and has now began to turn bad which could be harmful for health also. Here, the poet imagines that the sweetness of the detained dreams of the Africans which was once sweet but it has become old and crusty. It has consequently lost its sweetness. However, the poem is full of imagery which helps to give a perfect shape to the poem. And it also makes the theme of the poem strong both politically and socially as it has a political and social importance.
Here, the image of ‘Heavy load’ is appropriate here in the poem. No one wants to carry unnecessary bag or load of rotten meats. Everyone has some aspiration in the society related to their life. But their dream for a certain period was neglected. The image has drawn not only the unbearable burden of them but at the same time it also registers the pathos of those people. Living in other land requires extra attention. Abraham Lincoln struggled for the whole of his life. But he did not get the outcome even after his death. The pictures of the Africans were completely dashed back. So, all the contrasting images in the poem constitute the ground of the poem. The poet was a ground breaking person.
The final line of the poem rhetorically assumes the notions what of what can happen when people’s dreams fail to manifest in real time situation. However, all the elements of oppression and extraneous pressure and cathartical way of speaking and prejudice can play an important part in denying the dream. Actually the poem reflects the consequences of the post World War II mood of many African Americans. The time was over World War II and the fire of war pacifies consequently. But the consequences were so full of darkness and ill effects that it acts upon the life of the African Americans. The time was too peculiar and critical. Here, the dreams of the people were general as, ‘rights to life’ right to liberty’ and the pursuit of happiness. The poem is divided stanza wise. Every stanza raises questions to its answers.
They are highly connotative. In spite of so intensive and full of grave concerns that the poem successively draws up the pent up feelings of the African Americans. The detained and unfulfilled dreams of the African Americans have become so strong that it causes to death. Life has become nothing but delayed part. The word, ‘Fester‘ denotes seething decay and refers to pus. A postponed dream has always remained like an injury that sometimes gets infected.
Carrying the promised dreams in life Africans have become exhausted. The unfulfilled dreams only give pain to their lives. They are grief stricken and remain the same for the rest of their life. They are promised never those promises are kept. The Black poet, Hughes has only popped up the image.