Harlem by Langston Hughes | Significance of the Title

Harlem by Langston Hughes | Significance of the Title

Significance of the Title of the Poem Harlem

Langston Hughes has written his poetry from the perspectives of cultural and ideological Renaissance. The poem was written in the year of 1951. The Harlem Renaissance was over twenty years back since then. The political, social and ideological changes happened in the stance of the society. Langston Hughes was equivalent to Walt Whitman and Sanders in his writings. He was titled with the image of an African American poet. The kind of writings that Hughes registers here in the poem was started by Walt Whitman in ‘O Captain! My Captain!’. It was commonly expected that after the American Civil war the rights of the Africans socially and ethically would be preserved. But it turned completely back. The kind of holocaust and social scenario that Hughes has registered in the poem was really outwitted.

The title of the poem is ‘Harlem’ which was a contemporary place or centre of Renaissance in the 20th century. The ultimate goal of the cultural and justice was not preserved for the period. Simply the pet puts up the rhetorical questions in the poem that I those dreams of the Africans are not fulfilled then what will happen. The dreams have been compared to the raisins of the sun or crust of sugar. The long living aspiration in the mind of the Africans cheers up themselves so that once these can be fulfilled. Through some rhetorical questions and answers the poet here draws the picture of social injustice and racism. The final line of the poem ‘or does it explode’ is really an inspirational line for its readers. He tries to say that they once the social cultivated voice is dried up, the things will go ugly. So we can say that the poem is truly inspirational in nature.

The significance of the title goes back to the intellectual and cultural activities among the Africa Americans in the contemporary period centred on Harlem in New York. The contemporary eloquent writers have voiced up about the problems of social injustice and dried up prejudice. Due to that fact dreams of the African Americans are dried up or had gone from the mind. The poet here uses the same imagery to strengthen his questions whether his people should leave dreaming or try to keep the dreams intact in their vision, and to get social justice once.

The terms, ‘A raisin in the sun’ are so powerful that it falls positively on the minds of the Africans although some contemporary African American intellectuals and scholars commented that the styles of the poet was outdated but in spite of the fact the theme of suffering was displayed through the poem by the poet. Walt Whitman had written much before that to some extend the Africans were eschewed the general rights in America. But their hopes were made compact in this poetry. The poet’s nature of inclination towards the theme of Africans was made clear to all the contemporary intellectuals. They were having a vociferous attitude towards the white skinned people. The ongoing injustice and racism enshrined the country’s laws, poverty and lack of opportunities. Surprisingly these problems still existed in 1951.

It was a quite a natural question to be raised that a dream which was a point of aspiration among the Africans that was deviated from its path. So its effect was fallen in the minds of the common people. The most oppressive picture of the contemporary period was adjointly turned against the black skinned people. The ongoing injustice and racism that was going in the then society was highlighted in the poem. They had to suffer for a long period of their tenure of life in America. It sometime becomes convenient for the people to avoid after a long period of their dreams. But the ethical ground of the period was prepared. His attitude was to encourage the people to keep it up in the core of their mind. The attitude of the poet is positive here.

The poem is stanza wise divided and the common fact that was a common point of discussion here in the poem is clearly expressed through his use of uncommon poetic devices as well as some strange rhyming scheme. In the first stanza the poet wonders if the dreams dry up then what will happen. He also makes a comparison with the raisin of the sun. But in the next stanza the poet wonders and at the same time he also answers those unexpected rhetorical questions. The future of those African Americans is shown in distinct and clear cut pictures. The line says that the dried up dreams often stink like the rotten meat. So here the smell is not only the smell of the rotten meat which is nothing but a metaphor but it a collective stint of the pathos of the people living in the America. Often the dried up dreams become crusted sugar losing its sweetness which has also been relevantly put here in the poem. In the final simile the poet considers that the dream may simply weigh a person down sagging’ like a heavy load’. The final simile of the poem is very strong as he asks the question that, ‘Or does it explode?’ while stint meat or indelible meat related to unconstitutional racism might be incongruous or inconvenient h, they are not so terrible.

The final image where dreams have been compared to bomb is hardly to believe by the Africans whether these will explode once. A bomb blast can affect not only a single person but a chunk of people living in an area or community. But here, by making relevant comparison the poet wants to warn those white skinned people living in America or better be said that oppressors that once dried up dreams in the minds of the Africans may assume such an explosive figure that it can hurriedly or certainly change a whole community. That is also expected. The poet has made here a dramatic ending by saying that. So in this respect the poem’s title, ‘Harlem’ is relevant. In this context the title is perfect and well justified.

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