Dream Variations - Theme / Significance | Major English Grade XI

Langston Hughes

Dream Variations

“Dream Variations” written by black American poet Langston Hughes is a nostalgic lyric which bitterly expresses the poet’s wish for a carefree life away from colour persecution and racial discrimination.

The first stanza describes the poet’s dream to live a life of freedom in the land where there is no colour persecution. He wishes to rest in a cool evening beneath a tall tree, where dark night would come gently.

The second stanza describes the harsh reality that black people has to face in America. In reality, his dream is shattered by racial prejudice and colour discrimination in America. His dream remains unfulfilled. He has to live a harsh life, a life of boredom and frustration. Even the night reminds him of his black colour.

Thus, this poem is entitled “Dream Variations” suggesting that the dreams of blacks is not fulfilled but varies or changes in real life in colour prejudiced American society. This poem is also an attack on American Dream that America is a land of freedom and opportunity.

Important Questions Solutions:

1: Why is the poem titled "Dream Variations"?
Ans: The poet writes about his dream of free life. He appeals for a carefree life, away from colour persecution and racial discrimination. In the first stanza, he is having very hard days. The day in the first stanza is white day; white day means, white-ruled day or day of white domination. The second stanza is different from the first. The white day has become a quick day in second stanza. The days which are not hard, are easy to pass. These days are the quick days. The quick day of second stanza is the day of the poet's liking. The night in the first stanza is dark night but that in second stanza is black night. Black night is his night. The dream of the poet in the first stanza and second stanza varies. Therefore, the poem is titled "dream variations."

2: How are the first and second stanzas different in form?
Ans: The first stanza consists of nine lines but in the second stanza there are only eight lines. There are 43 words in first stanza in which 40 words are monosyllabic ( एक सिलेवल भएका ). The second stanza is made up of 34 words only. The position of some words is changed in the second stanza. For example, To "whirl" and to "dance" are changed to "Dance! Whirl! Whirl! Two sentences: Rest at pale evening..../ A tall, slim tree....are not complete in the second stanza while we don't find an incomplete sentence in the first stanza.

3: Write a short essay on the music of poetry?
Ans: The music of poetry is not the thing that we find outwardly. It is the pleasing combination of sounds found in poetry. It is very important in all poetry. The sound of poetry is similar to the organization of sounds in music. Rhythm and rhyme are the most important musical elements. The rhythmical effect is the matter of accents and pauses in every poetic line. We like the poem because of their music. Music is directly related to the meaning of the poetry. In this sense, Alexander Pope has said remarkably that " the sound must seem an echo to the sense. "

4: What is the main idea of the poem?
Ans: The main idea of the poem DREAM VARIATION, written by Langston Hughes, presents the tender pathos of a majority of individuals in the modern-day United States. It is a nostalgic ( विगतका बारेमा लेखिएको ) poem which expresses the poet's wish for complete freedom. It is written against colour persecution ( अत्याचार ) and racial discrimination.

5: What is the dream of a poet?
Ans: The poet wants to entertain the day freely without any intervention ( हस्तक्षेप ). He wants to do whatever he likes. He likes to roam around and dance throughout the day. Then in the evening, he wants to rest under a tall tree until it is dark. This is his dream.

Lines 1, 2 and 10, 11 express the poet's intention of freedom. " To fling my arms" means to work, in the earth (line 2). "In the face of sun" (line 11) is, perhaps the sunny days.

Line 3, 4 and 12, 13, In line three (3) the poet's general intention of whirling ( घुम्ने ) and dancing is expressed. But in line 12 dancing and whirling seem to be more deliberate and quick. Line 4 is very deep in meaning and important, too. "The White Day" refers to the period in which the whites were in power. The word "white" is replaced by the word "quick" in line 13. The change of "white day" to "quick day" implies that the period of white domination ( सेताहरुको अन्याय ) may soon be over.

In Lines 5, 6 and 14, in the evening, he wants to take rest under a tall tree. The word "cool" is replaced by the word "pale". "Pale" refers to something which is going to fade out. Here "pale evening" also refers to the possible end of the white domination.

In Lines 8 and 17, the word "dark" is changed to "black". This refers that the poet is emphasizing the black colour. The writer is implying that he is proud to be black.

"That is my dream" - The line is not repeated in the poem. It may mean that the dream has become a reality.

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