What is the imgaery in the poem, "As I grew older", by Langston Hughes?

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susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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The primary imagery in the poem is light and dark.  The speaker of the poem compares his dream to the sun.  Standing between the speaker and the sun are a wall and a shadow, blocking the light of the dream.  The speaker sees "Only the thick wall./ Only the shadow."

In the third stanza we learn what the shadow and thick wall represent:  the speaker's dark skin:  "I am black."  His dream for the future is denied him because of his race.

The last stanza is a plea that his dark hands can break through the obstacles created by his dark skin:

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this night,

To break this shadow

Into a thousand lights of sun,

Into a thousand whirling dreams

Of sun!

These last lines contain a powerful mixture of light and dark imagery.  The speaker believes in the possibility of his being able to break through the social barriers of being born black in a white dominated society.  He sees the possibility of reaching the light, his dream.  This poem ends with hope and strength.

 

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