Comparing Two Poems
The comparison between two poems are best analyzed through the form and meaning of the pieces. “Mother to Son” and “Harlem (A Dream Deferred)” both written by the profound poet Langston Hughes, depicts many similarities and differences between the poems. Between these two poems the reader can identify his flow of writing through analyzing the form and meaning of each line.
Form and meaning are what readers need to analyze to understand the poem that they are evaluating. In “Mother to Son”, his form of writing that is used frequently, is free verse. There is no set “form”, but he gets his point across in a very dramatic way. The poem is told by a mother who is trying to let her son know that in her life, she too has gone through many frustrations just like what her son is going through. The tone of this poem is very dramatic and tense because she illustrates the hardships that she had to go through in order to get where she is today. She explains that the hardships that she has gone through in her life have helped her become the person that she has come to be. Instead of Hughes being ironic, like he does in some of his poems, he is giving the reader true background on the mother’s life. By introducing the background, this helps get his point across to the reader in a very effective way. In this poem there are many key words which help portray the struggles that the mother is trying to express to her son. The poem is conveyed in a very “down to earth” manner. An example of this is, “Life for me ain’t been a crystal stair (462).” This quote shows the reader that the mom is trying to teach the son a lesson with out sugar coating it. She wants her son to know that throughout her life has had many obstacles to overcome, and that he too is going to have to get through his own obstacles no matter how frustrating it is. Her tone throughout the poem is stern telling the boy, “So boy, don’t turn your back (462).” The poems tone almost makes the reader believe that the mother is talking to them, almost as if I am being taught a valuable lesson. Analyzing this poem helps relate it to other poems such as, “Harlem (A Dream Deferred).”
“Harlem (A Dream Deferred)” is a poem that shows how someone’s deepest needs can end up leading to ruins. In this poem it is different from “Mother to Son” because it uses many more literary devices, such as similes and metaphors. Unlike the other poem, this poem incorporates a little rhyme to allow it to flow more smoothly. Instead of telling a story, the rhyming within allows the poem to be expressed differently to the reader then “Mother to Son”. The meaning of this poem incorporates the idea of “Dreams”. Everyone has different dreams on what they want to happen. Just like in “Mother to Son” it is telling the reader to keep moving on and accomplish what is important. In “A Dream Deferred” instead of coming out and saying keep moving on, it illustrates it by using rhetorical questions. These rhetorical questions allow the reader to answer them in their minds with what they believe is correct. It is a different kind of motivation that is used in “Mother to Son”. The dream itself, according to Hughes, will rot like meat if it is put off. Just like the other poem it is describing obstacles, just in a different kind of tone. The tone of this poem is almost a state of paranoia. The reader gets a sense of urgency, and the need to figure out whether they want their “dream” to come true.
In both of the poems that were written by Hughes, it depicts a lesson that needs to be learned. The form can be different in his poems, but the meaning of them can be very similar. The similarities of meaning are what make his poems so unique. He can convey almost the same message in two totally different poems, but chose to write in a different form. The form and meaning are what helps the reader analyze the poems, and to figure out what the author is trying to express.