The Imagery of
Langston Hughess
What happens when dreams are deferred? is the first line in Langston Hughess Harlem, a very interesting social commentary on Harlem in the early 1950s. It talks about a dream deferred Harlem, which was a haven for literature and intellect in the late 20s and early 30s, but has become run down and faded to a shadow of its former existence. Langston Hughess Harlem is an unbelievable poem that is filled with extremely vivid imagery.

Harlem, by Langston Hughes uses various examples of imagery that one can relate to. The key to turning words into images is the ability to relate them to common experiences. No matter the person, we all cringe at the thought of rotten meat. Harlem contains the line Does it stink like rotten meat? Now we as the audience may not know what he is referring to when he asks the question but we all can relate to the stench of rotten meat. What Hughes reffers to is the dream of Harlem which has become lost in the shuffle of the post World War II era. People are no longer searching for the good times that they had searched for in the late 20s early 30s during the Great Depression.
Another example of vivid image that Langston Hughes uses in Harlem is the depiction of a festering sore.Again, everyone can relate and cringe to the image of a contusion, abrasion, or laseration has not been properly taken care of.It oozes puss, stinks, and is extremely disgusting to look at. Hughes uses this likeness to illustrate the fading of Harlem from the lively place it was, to the run down area filled with ghettos it has become.

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Maybe it sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? This is the most vivid image of the poem, which is why it concludes Harlem. Langston Hughes wanted to create an effect in this poem. He accomplished that effect and more by using the word explode. The word explode conjures up a vivid illustration of something expanding very violently outwards till it is unrecognizable to its former shape. Every person, be it adult or child, can relate to something exploding. The United States witnessed an explosion with the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center. It can be assumed that everyone, be it adult or child, has seen the second plane run into the building and detonate. That word takes on new meaning to us right now. The word explode is an extremely powerful word, which is why Langston Hughes chose to use it.

In recapitalization, Harlem written by Langston Hughes is a poem of which entirety is consumed with vivid imagery. It makes its point wondering the fate of Harlem, wondering if the dream that was Harlem will continue. Will it explode into an unrecognizable shape of its former self, or will it regain its former glory. Langston Hughes gives Harlem a very interesting quality in this piece. The poem and its images are something everyone can relate to.

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