Dreams by Langston Hughes; Summary & Analysis


The poem Dreams by Langston Hughes is quite short, comprising of two stanzas only. The poem makes the reader understand the importance of dreams in his/her life. Dreams are something that the poet probably synonymizes with hope.

In this context according to the poet, our life is nothing and meaningless without dreams. It is the dreams which have made humans progress. Hence one should hold onto the dreams. Now I will discuss both the stanzas separately.


Stanza 1

The poet begins the poem with the words, Hold fast to dreams. Thus in the very first line, the poet mentions the importance of dreams.

He asks the readers and audience to hold their dreams fast i.e. keep dreaming because if dreams die life is a broken-wing bird that cannot fly. 

The poet uses the bird as a metaphor. In literature, bird symbolizes hope, ecstasy, and liberty. Broken-wing bird thus means hopelessness, joylessness, and slavery.

Thus according to the poet, without dreams, a person becomes purposeless and hopeless. Hence it is important to keep dreaming.

Stanza 2

In stanza 2, the poet repeats the phrase, Hold fast to dreams that show how significant the dreams are for the poet. In this stanza, the poet uses another metaphor.

He compares life without a dream with a barren field frozen with snowIn literature, barren field and snow represent lifelessness because a barren field has no crops and hence is unproductive.

Like barren field which is frozen with snow a man without dreams is hindered from productive and motivational thoughts. It is the dreams and the hope which aspire the man to invent new things, discover innovative ideas and also help him to become a better being. It is the dreams which make the man struggle.

Thus in both the stanzas, the poet is trying to convey that every man should keep dreaming. Dreams are central to a number of other poems of Langston Hughes like A Dream Deferred.

As the poet is African-American, the poem can also be considered as a motivational verse for the Blacks whom Hughes urges to keep dreaming of equality which they are yet to achieve.