The most famous writer of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes became the "poet laureate of Harlem." He once commented on his poetry as verse that deals with
people up today and down tomorrow...beaten and baffled, but determined not to be wholly beaten.
In "Dreams," Hughes addresses the down-but-determined with his exhortations. He wishes to prevent the deferment of goals, as in his first line he urges people to "hold fast to dreams."
In this short poem, Hughes employs literary devices and figurative language:
The /d/ is repeated in the first two lines with the words "dreams" and "die." Then, in the last two lines, the /f/ is repeated with the last word of the seventh line, "field," and the first word of the final line, "Frozen."
There are metaphors, or unstated comparisons, with "life," which is compared to "a broken-winged bird / That cannot fly" and "a barren field / Frozen with snow." In other words, if a person no longer dreams, his/her life becomes damaged and barren, lacking any meaning.
In order to impress upon his readers the importance of dreams and goals, Langston Hughes personifies them. For example, in the second line of the poem, Hughes writes, "For if dreams die...." Dreams are given importance and life through personification.