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

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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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