February 12, 2009

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Langston Hughes

Posted in Devotionals, Poetry, Stories at 11:04 am by Sarah Bosse

This is my favorite Langston Hughes poem…called “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?


No, this is not my favorite style of poetry, but I do enjoy the analogies very much.  The quality of the analogies is probably the reason why I enjoy the poem as much as I do.  And this poem reflects a question I’ve asked myself for years – what happens to those dreams?  Gratefully, because of Christ, I know that nothing in my life will be wasted – neither the joys of “success” nor the losses of “failure”.  But it still remains a question I would like some more clear answers to, in God’s timing, as at this point in my life I’m nowhere near where I had intended or hoped to be.  My life certainly hasn’t taken its anticipated path.  So as I was eating breakfast this morning – muffins topped off with some chocolate-coated raisins – I was considering Hughes’ poem.  I asked myself…”What happens to a dream deferred?  Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?  And if so, what happens if that raisin is harvested and then dipped in chocolate?  Well, obviously someone will be delighted,” and with that I popped another chocolate-coated raisin in my mouth.  Perhaps that’s the analogy of my life.  So many of my dreams have shriveled up like raisins in the sun, but God is going to coat those raisins in chocolate.  That would be a nice offering to God – a bunch of chocolate-coated raisins.  He could delight and be honored by that.  *Smile.*  




  1. Alicia Joy LeBlanc said,

    That’s awesome, Sarah. 🙂

    This is one of my favorite poems as well. What a great response to it.
    I once wrote a poem in response to this one. However, I would have to dig in a box for it at the moment.
    The gist of the poem was that a dream deferred can grow. Sort of like a seed doesn’t produce wheat unless it dies.

    I really like your chocolate covered raisin analogy. We don’t need to think of shriveled dreams as an unfit offering. He makes all things New.

  2. trulygodsgrace said,

    If you find your poem and send it to me, I would be glad to post it on my blog and give you the credit. I’m glad you enjoyed my reflections!

  3. Princess Mary said,

    I really like this poem by Langston Hughes. The question what happens to a dream deferred starts a serious of more questions. I think a dream deferred doesn’t have to be the end of the dream. I have seen in my life dreams come to life after time. It is often when I thought it was all over with that the dream unfolds, maybe not as I dreamed but it does come to life. I also saw dreams never come to life which I can say most where not what was to be for me. I trust God walks with me in all things and my dreams in its life and in death still can teach me something and bring me to a new place in my life journey.

  4. […] I’ve had hope before, and its often been deferred.  Sometimes it’s been crushed.  ”Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” […]

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