Dreams, ambitions, hope and desires are common themes that define human nature. These dreams and yearnings of the soul have inspired poets for many millennia. This theme has endured through time and can still be found in the poetry of today. This research will explore the theme of dreams, hopes, and desires in through a modern lens. It will support the thesis that having dreams is more important than if they come true or not. It will explore the ability of dreams to sustain a person, even in the worst of times.
Langston Hughes directly addresses the topic of a dream that has been put off. The first line of “Harlem” asks the question, “What happens to a dream Deferred?” (Hughes, line 1). Hughes then suggests several potential fates for the unrealized dream. In “Facebook Sonnet,” by Sherman Alexie has the theme of dreams. The sarcastic tone of the poem has the underlying theme of dreams, in relation to dreams that one has when they are young. The poem highlights the truth of what one has become as an adult, juxtaposed against where everyone thought they would be as an adult. The dreams are still alive as indicated by the line, “Let’s exhume, resume, and extend Childhood,” (Alexie, line 7-8). Sandra Sharp also addresses this theme in “It’s the Law: A Rap Poem.” She is talking about dreams and visions when she says, “That our vision of love is going blind” (Sharp, line 9).
All three of these poems talk about dreams that never came to pass. Langston Hughes sees unrealized dreams in dark and broody manner. He compares them to a dried up raisin in the sun (line 2), a festering sore (line 3), rotten meat (line 5), and a heavy load (line 10). Alexi talks about how all of the high school games are reawakened on Facebook. Old friends and lovers resume the game as if they have never grown up, but have remained endlessly in the past. The mention of lovers, both good and bad have once again come into the present. All of the joys and pleasures are reawakened, as she indicates by using the word, “mend” in line 4. Sandra Sharp talks about the laws that suppress and repress personal freedom. Much of the poem is spent lamenting the laws by which we must all live.
In the lamenting of dreams and desires that are unrealized, all three authors offer a ray of hope and support the theme that dreams have a place where they will not die. Hughes ends with hope, saying that sometimes the dream does not wither and die, it explodes (line 11). This implies that if a dream sits long enough, it will eventually have to come true, suddenly and explosively. The Facebook Sonnet has the underlying theme that dreams that one thought had dies are still kept alive via Facebook, but the last line talks about how underlying those dreams is loneliness. Sharp ends with call to action so that the dream can be realized. Sharp calls the reader to act in a way where repressive laws are not necessary because they are not needed. Sharp paints a picture of a Utopian society where everyone acts in a way where laws are no longer needed and everyone has peace and harmony.
The theme of this comparative essay was the theme of dream, hopes, and desires. All three poems talked about dreams that are on the past, except for Sharp’s poem, which talks about the dream of more freedom in the present. Two out of three of the poems end on a positive note. Hughes ends with a claim that all of a sudden the dream will come true if it only sits long enough. Sharp tells the reader to take action to make the dream come true. Only Alexie ends with dreams that will never be. The person who had dreams and ambitions in high school ends up lonely in the end, talking about the glory days on Facebook. All three of these poems take a different perspective on dreams. One can draw the conclusion that unrealized dreams can suffer two fates. They may eventually come true, or they may wither and melt into and endless sea of loneliness. The outcome is up to the dreamer.
- Hughes, Langston. Harlem. Poetry Foundation. 2013. Web. 3 December 2013.
- Alexie, Sherman. The Facebook Sonnet – Sherman Alexie. Mockingbird. 17 may 2011. Web. 3 December 2013.
- Sharp, Sandra. It’s the Law: A Rap Poem. Tripod. 2013. Web. 3 December 2013.