What happens to a dream deferred?

One of the most awesome poem written by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston HughesLangston Hughes. Written in 1951, these words inspired Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play A Raisin in the Sun.

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?

We all dream. Everyone of us is a dreamer. We actually don’t know when we start dreaming. No age is defined, no event is defined, which triggers this beautiful faculty we humans possess. We have all kinds of dreams. It’s like an infinite time and space where anything is possible. We can become whatever we want. A perfect escape plan. But, is it?

Langston starts with asking a question, what happens to a dream deferred? Very basic human helplessness is on display. A bare fact that not all dreams come true. In the very first line poet connects with the reader. Each one of us have some secret dreams which very few, or in most cases nobody, know of. Unfulfilled desires, that endless pit of self-expectations where every human being fails one or the other time. Suddenly, someone asks an unexpected question- what happens if ?

Does it dry up? Drying dreams, the image here is so powerful that the moment you read it, a powerful stream of thoughts start pounding. All your dreams dance infront of your eyes and you just watch them fade away, dry away, fly away. Like  a raisin in the Sun our dreams do dry. This comparison is equally hilarious and serious. Water is gone, evaporated, dried up. Passion is gone or simmered down. We no longer feel the zeal, dream dries with time if it’s deferred.

Or fester like a sore–
And then run?

Our dreams can be the source of the pain, sadness and frustration in our lives. Continuous inner play between what is and what could have been. It’s an invisible sore. We hurt ourselves… I think these lines only inspired Johnny Cash

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

Does our dreams stink ? Do we reek of our lost paths ? Do we carry this baggage all around? All these questions make you think deep. We keep playing with ourselves, making ourselves understand that, everything’s going to be alright, just achieve this goal, reach here, just this. But, thing is, this is a series. It goes on, one after another. One stack of dreams over another. One gone, another replaces. Modes change, but the pang remains.

May be dreams explode, may be they do. Is it madness or frantic cry for help? So many possibilities our mind designs. Scenarios after scenarios, one choice after another. Explosion after implosion. A dream deferred, an unfulfilled desire, a secret hushed, broken path, a never ending fight, an eternal enigma. A mystery that was never solved, a dream that always was meant to be a dream. A reality with facts. Dreams do defer for many, and many live with the sting everyday.


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