Broken Winged Bird

Langston Hughes’ “Dreams” – Pham


Vivian Pham

Ms. Nelson

English 3 Period

February 13th, 2012

                                                                        Langston Hughes’ “Dreams”

    Ever had a dream that you always wanted to live? Like to be a famous basketball player, the greatest singer, or even to break a world record? But you know that you can’t live it? In Langston Hughes’ poem “Dreams,” he uses similes, metaphors, and personifications to create a theme that shows us that our dreams give our lives meaning and purpose,they allow us to be what we can all be and to accomplish all we can accomplish. Without our dreams, we can’t “fly.” Without them, our lives are barren; nothing can grow or bloom within us.

    To begin, Langston Hughes uses personifications to create a meaningful and strong mood in the poem. In the first stanza, the speaker, Langston Hughes, says, “Hold fast to dreams/For if dreams die.” The personification “Hold fast to dreams”gives us a meaning that Langston Hughes is saying that you should never give up on your hopes and dreams. The speaker uses a a human characteristic(holding) to a non-living thing (dreams) which is a personification. So the message is to hold on tight to your dreams and never let go.

    Secondly, Langston Hughes’ use of metaphors also points out to the poem being about never to let go of your dreams. The following lines from the first stanza have metaphor: “ Life is a broken-winged bird/that cannot fly. Langston Hughes compares a broken-winged bird to life meaning life can hard at point. The message of this part of a poem is that life can hard and struggling as a broken-winged bird trying to fly but cannot.

   Lastly, Langston Hughes uses similes to create a very cold and sad mood in the poem. In the second stanza of the poem, the speaker says “Life is a barren field/ Frozen with snow.” What the speaker is trying to say is that live can and would be cold, nothing would grow within us without our dreams. Langston Hughes compares life to a barren field; empty, nothing but snow. The message is that if you let your dreams go, your life will be frozen as snow.

  In conclusion, through figurative language rhythm and rhyme, Langston Hughes uses a meaningful poem yet powerful. Dreams are an important thing in your life. Everyone should know that. Without dreams, we would not be or we are today.


Carl Sandburg – Pham

Born: January 6, 1878 Galesburg, Illinois

Died: July 22, 1967 Flat Rock, North Caroline

Carl Sandburg was an American writer and editor. At the age of 13 he dropped school and began driving milk wagons. Carl Sandburg dropped out of school in the 8th grade. He spent a decade working a variety of jobs. He delivered milk, harvested ice, laid bricks, threshed wheat, and shined shoes in Galesburg’s Union Hotel before traveling as a hobo in 1897. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898 volunteered for service. He won 3 Pultizer Prizes, 2 for his poetry and another one for a biography on Abraham Lincoln. H. Mencken.

 He had a wife named Paula, 3 daughters named Margaret, Helga, and Janet. In 1959, a school named Carl Sandburg Junior Middle School was opened in Golden Valley, Minnesota. In 1988, the name was changed to Sandburg Middle School servicing grades 6, 7, and 8. On January 6, 1978. the 100th anniversary of his birth , the United States Postal Service issused a commemorative stamp honoring Sandburg. Sandburg also collected and edited books of ballads and folklore. He spent most of his life in the Midwest before moving to North Carolina. Sandburg honered his writing skills and adopted the socialist views of his mentor before leaving school in his senior year.

When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898 Sandburg volunteered for service, and at the age of twenty was ordered to Puerto Rico, where he spent days battling only heat and mosquitoes. Upon his return to his hometown later that year, he entered Lombard College, supporting himself as a call fireman.Sandburg’s college years shaped his literary talents and political views. While at Lombard, Sandburg joined the Poor Writers’ Club, an informal literary organization whose members met to read and criticize poetry. Poor Writers’ founder, Lombard professor Phillip Green Wright, a talented scholar and political liberal, encouraged the talented young Sandburg.

His experiences working and traveling greatly influenced his writing and political views. As a hobo he learned a number of folk songs, which he later performed at speaking engagements. He saw first-hand the sharp contrast between rich and poor, a dichotomy that instilled in him a distrust of capitalism.

As the first decade of the century wore on, Sandburg grew increasingly concerned with the plight of the American worker. In 1907 he worked as an organizer for the Wisconsin Social Democratic party, writing and distributing political pamphlets and literature. At party headquarters in Milwaukee, Sandburg met Lilian Steichen, whom he married in 1908. The responsibilities of marriage and family prompted a career change. Sandburg returned to Illinois and took up journalism. For several years he worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News, covering mostly labor issues and later writing his own feature.

James Langston Hughes- Pham

Born:February 1, 1902 in Joplin,Missouri

Died: May 22, 1967 in New York City, New York

Langston Hughes attended first grade in Topeka where he lived with his mother for a while. He soon moved back to Lawrence and enrolled in Pinckney School where he attended second and third grade in a separate room. But soon in 4th grade, Lawrence Schools were no longer separated. Langston Hughes then went to New York School for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade.  Langston Hughes then entered 7th,8th and 9th grade in Central School.

When Langston Hughes was a little kid, his parents had a divorce. His father later on, moved to Mexico. Langston than lived with his grandmother, Mary Langston in Lawrence. Langston Hughes is also the brother of  John Mercer Langston and the great great-grandson of Charles Henry Langston.

Langston Hughes had experienced many things throughout his life.

Langston Hughes started his writing career in high school. His first ever published poem was called ” The Negro Speaks of Rivers”. Soon his poems short plays, short stories and essays started to show up in the NAACP publication Crisis Magazine, Opportunity Magazine, and other magazines. Langston Hughes also traveled to Nigeria, Belgium, Angola, and many more places to share his poems,essays,short plays and short stories.

Langston Hughes had won many awards and honors because of his writing career. Such as:

  • 1925 — Opportunity magazine literary contest, first prize in poetry
  • 1925 — Amy Spingarn Contest, Crisis magazine, poetry and essay prizes
  • 1926 — Witter Brynner undergraduate poetry prize contests, first prize
  • 1927 — Palms magazine Intercollegiate Poetry Award
  • 1931 — Harmon Gold Medal for Literature
  • 1935 — Guggenheim fellowship for creative work
  • 1941 — Rosenwald fellowship
  • 1943 — Doctor of Literature, Lincoln University
  • 1960 — Doctor of Literature, Howard University
  • 1964 — Doctor of Literature, Western Reserve University
  • 1947 — National Institute and American Academy of Arts and Letters grant
  • 1954 — Anisfeld-Wolfe Award for best book on racial relations
  • 1960 — Spingarn Medal, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)