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A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes

A bout of writing, and I ran out of cigarettes. Out of all nights. Why do I do this to myself.

A Dream Deferred
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?

Comments (10)

  • Inspiration comes from a place of freedom in expressing our own stories of creation. Movement and artistic grace is born from this feeling. It is a time that we can rejoice knowing we are united with the rest of the world and universe, while knowing in the stillness of our still beating hearts that we are as God’s children, and have been given this inspiration so that our voices may rise above our grief and reach into heaven.

  • leann knowles

    this poem is the best poem i ever heard in my whole entire life

  • this is one of my favorite poems. i was looking for it somewhere online to post to my Facebook page – in honor of National Poetry Month. i am so glad to have stumbled upon your site. that mary oliver quote at the top hits hard, incredible: Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? ― Mary Oliver

  • A dream deferred is just that :deferred, until the mistakes, setbacks, hurts , bad habits and hang-ups have been addressed positively, then the dream may have freedom to become a reality. Darryl Riley

  • ja'mia

    a dream deferred…….this is my life its a dream deferred

  • Even when you fight with every cell in your body to achieve your dreams…one day some “man” will come alone and snatch them away…just like that. In a blink. Mine exploded! Today!

  • The poem talks about what happens when a dream IS deferred, not what happens when setbacks are overcome. It reflects on influential forces beyond one’s personal control. Investing in a friend who then takes the money and runs away is unforeseen, and beyond one’s control. Being denied employment because of the color of one’s skin is beyond one’s control. Langston Hughes was referring to the dreams of black people in America when their dreams of having a good job, moving out of the ghetto, getting their kids into decent neighborhoods and schools, and sending them to college was beyond their control. Many of those black people lived to see their dreams come true. Their lives were not a dream deferred; things just happened on God’s timetable. But the one’s who passed before obtaining their dreams, theirs was a dream deferred.


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