« Venn Diagram Your Life—And Your Teaching Practice, Too! | Main | Teachable Holidays: Don't Separate Church and Education »

A Dream Foreseen: My Response to Langston Hughes

A Dream Deferred
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?

I was driving home from work last week, passing through one of most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, and I observed the blight surrounding my minivan. My two daughters were on the back seat, the kindergartener was asleep and the fourth grader was awake but oblivious to the world. And the Langston Hughes poem came to mind. I dare now respond to his question:

"What happens to a dream deferred?"

A Dream Foreseen
A dream deferred is slow death
to a soul.
The tragic passing of hope,
sorrows better left untold.
It breathes its last breath in the saddest of plights;
delusions of false affections,
the mantra of gangsters' rites.

It plays out in drive-bys, in muggings, in killings;
when smiling honor students
bleed out near school buildings
It celebrates the lawless, the lewd,
Its music speaks of failure
as truth to believe in

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up? Fester? Rot?
The haves just keep on having
And the have-nots just have not.

What happens to a dream deferred?
Walk with me through the 'hood
A town of abundant potential
But few emphasize the good

Still, I have seen a new city
streaming with milk and sweet honey.
Where black and brown children
are loved, treasured far above money.

I am now changed.
Frustrated, but convinced.
I believe.
I know.
I have a 6th sense.
It's my hope for the children.
It's my breath of life.
I vow to keep it holy;
a union of husband and wife.

Langston, please, can you tell me
What happens to a dream foreseen?
When the present has not the capacity
to reveal the reality of its being?
Is my dream still valid
though I may never live to see it?
Though I feel it in my pulse?
Though my heart beats for it?

A dream deterred?
I cannot let it be!
Dreams are always very much on time
My dream is waiting on me.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.


Most Viewed On Teacher



Recent Comments