A Poem (and a Print)


Harlem Street with Church, print


by Langston Hughes

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?

(Image: Harlem Street with Church by William H. Johnson, ca. 1939-1940. Hand-colored relief print. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation).