There are not many poems that are short in length but very strong in delivering an emotional impact to the readers. “Dreams” by Langston Hughes is one of those rare poems.
There is not much to explain about the poem or decode the meaning. The poem is exactly what it talks about; dreams. But there are some great uses of metaphors that need to be discussed.
Firstly, take a look at the poem, and then we shall dive deeper into the metaphors, meanings, and themes of the poem.
Dreams by Langston Hughes
Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go Life is a barren field Frozen with snow.
The Importance of Dreams
First of all, the poem is not about the dreams you see when you are asleep. The poem is about the dreams that keep you awake at night. Here, dreams mean aspirations and desires.
The first stanza conveys that dreams are to life what wings are to a bird. Birds can survive without wings and can live normally as well.
But birds are defined by their wings. Wings are characteristic of birds. Just like that, dreams are the characteristics of life.
Life can be lived without a dream, but it would be very unlike what life should be. You would be able to walk, but never be able to fly. Life would be just living, and not achieving or aiming for higher things.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
In the second stanza, we get another metaphor; without dreams, life is just a barren field covered and dead with snow. Another way of understanding this metaphor is by looking at it in a different way.
A field that’s not barren is able to produce trees and flowers. It is a fertile land where growth occurs. The same is true for life with dreams.
Life with dreams is a fertile place where ideas are grown. Dreams allow us to create things, achieve things, and without them, life would be barren.
With just eight lines and two stanzas, Hughes has delivered a deep impact and shown the importance of dreams in our lives. He showed how important and necessary it is to have dreams.
You can still live a life without dreams, but would that life be worth it? How happy is the bird that cannot fly, or how useful is the land that cannot grow anything?
The Theme of the Poem
The poem’s theme is obviously about the importance of dreams, but it is also about what makes life worth living. Dreams are the ways that make people go through hard times.
Dreams are not just something that makes you go through life, but they are also an integral part of our life that gives it a definition and a characteristic.
Just like wings define what a bird is, dreams define what life is and what it should be. Without dreams, life is merely seconds stitched together to make minutes, and minutes stitched together to make hours, ad nauseam.