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Dreaming Black Boy by James Berry

I wish my teachers eyes wouldnt


go past me today. Wish hed know
its okay to hug me when I kick
a goal. Wish I myself wouldnt hold back when answer comes.
Im no woodchopper now
like all ancestors.

I wish life wouldnt spend me out


opposing. Wish same way creation
would have me stand it would have
me stretch, and hold high, my voice
Paul Robesons, my inside eye
a sun.Nobody wants to say
hello to nasty answers.

I wish torch throwers of night


would burn lights for decent times.
Wish plotters in pyjamas would pray
for themselves. Wish people wouldnt
talk as if I dropped from Mars.

I wish only boys were scared


behind bravados, for i could suffer.
I could suffer a big big lot.

I wish nobody would want to earn

the terrible burden I can suffer.

Analysis: The poem expresses a child's wish to be free of physical and emotional pain. It
is written from the perspective of a child in the first person narrative voice of the child
himself. The title of the poem immediately provides the context in which the child's
"dream" or "wishes" are framed. The title reveals that the speaker is a boy, and he is of
the black race.

Each verse of the poem begins with the repetitive, "I wish". In total there are five wishes
varying from a wish for some type of encouragement by his teacher, to his wish for
freedom from the "terrible burdens of life". All of the child's wishes are for good and
positive things. Essentially he wishes that living was easier, or less problematic than it
really is.
His childhood wishes brings into question the role of adults in the lives of children. It is
clear that the role of adults in the poems about the experience of growing children is to
love, care, compliment, protect and encourage them.
We know, based on the title of the poem, that the boy is of the black race. This
contextualizes the ethnicity, and, therefore, the experiences that are particular to a child
of that racial ethnicity. The child is not only black but also male. Armed with this
information one is forced to think of the implications suggested by such awareness,
implications regarding the specific types of problems and experiences that are particular
to a boy child belonging to the black race. What is absolutely clear is that the poem is
about a child's fears of the suffering he could possibly encounter as a result of things
happening around him. His final wish is to escape the "terrible burden" and of
having( as a boy) the burden of pretending to be brave, which is an expression of the
fears and concerns of a child, particularly a male child in what is obviously an extremely
unstable and chaotic environment. He dreams of a better, safer life, and he thinks that
education will enable him to escape the chaos.

There are really no bright spots in the poem, except the dream of the child which may or
may not materialize. The tone is empathetic and heavy with emotional pain,
psychological stress and fears. We are reminded early in the poem that his ancestors
also had very strenuous lives. The poem reminds us that children do think about what
they witness around them, and that their fears and concerns are real. They wish to be
assured, whether by their teachers or the adults in their lives that all will be well. The
writer's intentional use of the repetitious, "I wish" is as painful as the fears of the child
himself.

LITERAL MEANING

The poem is about a black boy who wishes that he could have the regular things in life:
things such as a congratulatory hug, to be educated to the highest level and to travel
without harassment. The persona yearns to stop fighting for the basic right to be
successful as well as to suffering.

LITERARY DEVICES

1. REPETITION:
The constant repetition of the phrase 'I wish' points to a yearning, a desperation even,
for the basic things that life has to offer. The repetition gives credence to the idea that
the persona might believe that his wishes are actually dreams that might not come true.

2. ALLUSION:
Stanza 1, lines 6 and 7, alludes to slavery, the state of lacking control over one's own life
and destiny. The fact that reference is made to this hints to how the persona feels about
his life. He does not feel as if he has control over it.

Stanza 3, lines 19 to 20, alludes to Paul Robeson, a black intellectual, who attained
success despite difficult circumstances. The persona yearns to be like this person.
He wants room to stretch intellectually.

Stanza 4, lines 22 to 25, alludes to the klu klux klan. Burning lights refers to the
burning crosses and the pyjamas allude to their white outfits that look like
pyjamas. The persona wants them to leave him alone, find something else to do
other than make his life difficult, as well as contributing to his wishes remaining
a dream.

IMPORTANT WORDS / PHRASES

3.'not sink to lick boots':


This refers to the concept of being subservient. To have no choice but to bow to people
in order to get ahead.
4. 'Inside eye a sun ':
This refers to the persona's mind. He wants to show how intelligent he is without fear.
He wants his mind to be a sun. Sun represents brightness and light, that is how he
wants his intelligence to shine.

TONE

The tone/mood of the poem is one of sadness. The persona is thinking about how he is
treated and he reacts to this in a sad way. He keeps wishing that things were different.

THEME:
Racism, and its effects, is the major theme for this poem. The persona's yearning for
'ordinary things' highlights how contained the boy's life is. It is a cry to be free.
THEME FOR ENGLISH B By Langston Hughes
The instructor said,
Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you---
Then, it will be true.
I wonder if it's that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It's not easy to know what is true for you or me


at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me---we two---you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York too.) Me---who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records---Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me NOT like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white---
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That's American.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me---
although you're older---and white---
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.


Speaker
The speaker of "Theme for English B" is a college student, but he is not Langston Hughes.
Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902, not in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, as the
poem says. He wrote the poem in 1946 and read it to audiences in Winston-Salem. The poem is
set in an earlier time, likely the 1920s, when Hughes moved to Harlem in New York City and
joined the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was an African-American art and
cultural movement in the early 20th century.

Race
The speaker mentions that he is "colored" four times. He lives at the Harlem YMCA and attends
the "college on the hill above Harlem," which could refer to the City College of New York or
Columbia University. He says, "I am the only colored student in my class." He refers to paper
and his instructor as "white," but also mentions "other races," so it is likely the other students in
the class were not all white.

Music
Hughes uses a different rhythm in the third stanza when the speaker explains the things that he
likes. The rhythm is similar to jazz music. He compares what he has in common with his older
white instructor, including getting a pipe as a Christmas gift and records including "Bessie, bop,
or Bach." Bessie refers to Bessie Smith, "Empress of the Blues" in the 1920s. Bop is a style of
jazz also popular at that time, and Bach refers to the classical composer.

Rhyme and Structure


Parts of "Theme for English B" rhyme and parts do not. The poem has a similar form to a college
English essay. The assignment comes first: "Go home and write/a page tonight. And let that page
come out of you/then it will be true." The speaker asks, "I wonder if it's that simple?" The rest of
the stanza in his voice, which is African-American, does not rhyme. The poem concludes with
rhyming lines which end with "me" and "free," and the last line: "This is my page for English B."

Analysis:

Theme for English B is without a doubt one of Langston Hughess most famous, beloved, and
anthologized poems. He wrote it in 1951, the evening of his career, and it addresses one of his
most ubiquitous themes the American Dream. Thematically, "Theme for English B" resembles
American Heartbreak and Let America Be America Again. The poem is written in free verse
and lacks a systematic form or meter; its language is simple and casual, and it flows in a stream-
of-consciousness style.

The narrative centers on a young student whose instructor has asked him to write a page about
himself with the caveat that the page ought to be true. The speaker reflects on himself, noting
that he is twenty-two years old, "colored," and born in Winston-Salem, N.C. He lists the schools
he has gone to and explains that he is currently a student in New York (he probably attends
Columbia University or City College of New York). As he walks home, he realizes that he is the
only "colored" student in his class.

On his page, the speaker begins by expressing the his belief that it is hard to know what is true at
such a young age. He identifies himself with Harlem, evoking the sounds and sights of the city,
claiming to hear Harlem, and, in fact - all of New York. While he feels like an anomaly at school,
he fits in within Harlem, which is where he is most content. He lists some of the common place
but meaningful things he likes to do eat, sleep, understand life, listen to music and points
out that being "colored" does prevent him from liking the same things that white people like

he speaker's musings become more philosophical as he wonders, So will my page be colored


that I write? He knows that his perspective is not the same as his white instructor's, but observes
that he and his instructor are linked, whether they like it or not - through his writing and in the
fact that they are both Americans. He recognizes that they can both learn from each other even
though the instructor has the superficial advantages of being older, white, and more free.

Through this poem, Langston Hughes asserts that there are multiple types of Americans, and
there is no singular defining "American" experience. Black, white, young, old, oppressed, free
all can strive for a piece of the American Dream. This poem is thus much more optimistic than
some of Hughes's other writings on this subject; however, it also is a bit more ambiguous than it
initially might appear. Critic Tanfer Emin Tunc writes that there are other aspects of [the
speakers] life that can only be inferred."

Tunc points out that the speaker writes about attending different schools in North Carolina before
moving to New York, a pattern that traces the Great Migration of African Americans from their
homes in the South to urban centers in the North like New York and Chicago. The lack of more
specific facts makes the speakers experiences more universal, and his claim that he and his
teacher are a part of each other simultaneously affirms a common experience with white
America while also resisting the impulse to justify his life to that culture and reshape himself in
that image. Overall, the young speaker is trying to figure himself out, as well as grasp the
holistic identity of his multifaceted and complicated countr
This poem 'Once upon a time' was written by a Nigerian poet known as Gabriel Okara. Gabriel
Okara was born in 1921 in Nigeria.

'ONCE UPON A TIME' is a poem consisting of seven stanzas each containing between four and
eight lines.

The title of this poem 'Once upon a time' straight away makes you feel as if you are going back
in time, it also makes you feel as if what happened was a fairy tale and it will never happen
again.

I think that the poet has used this title to make the reader feel as though what he will read i.e.
what he experienced will never happen again and when a person reads the title it will make him
feel as if he is about to read fairy tale.

In stanza one Gabriel Okara writes 'Once upon a time, son' , so when he writes son it shows that
he is talking to his son or someone who is younger than him likely to be in his childhood days.

He then writes 'they used to laugh with their hearts, and laugh with their eyes', by saying 'used to'
shows that it happened in the past and does not happen now and he says that before people would
laugh with their hearts and would really laugh out of happiness but now 'they only laugh with
their teeth, while their ice-block-cold eyes, search behind my shadow'.

When the poet says now they only laugh with their teeth he means that people now when they do
laugh they only laugh for the sake of laughing and not out of real happiness, and then he goes on
to say 'while their ice-block-cold eyes search behind my shadow' , by using a metaphor the writer
says that the person who is laughing laugh with his/her eyes as cold and as solid as ice and there
is no happiness what so ever inside the persons eyes while they search behind his shadow as in
they look right past him without paying any attention to him whatsoever.

Stanza one summed up is talking about when he was young when people would laugh with their
hearts and how people have changed to laugh without happiness and to 'fake laugh' while their
cold eyes would be dead with grief.
In stanza two Gabriel says 'they used to shake hands with their hearts; but now that's gone' when
he says this he means that in the past people would shake hands and be happy i.e. they would
actually shake hands with pleasure 'but now that's gone' shows that this is no more. He means
that people would have shook hands with happiness before but now they shake hands without
any joy and be in boredom as he goes on to say 'now they shake hands without hearts;'.

The next line in the same stanza says 'While their left hand search my empty pocket' this shows
that the writer is indicating that the person who he is meeting is searching his pockets while they
are empty, which give you an idea that the poet would not have any valuables in his pocket. To
summarise stanza three would be that people in the early nineteenth century, would meet and
greet each other with their full hearts, out of utter happiness and with a good intention, where as
nowadays it has turned completely opposite and people don't just shake hands without heart, they
search in your pockets while they are doing so.

Stanza three starts with ''feel at home'! 'Come again': they say,' By this we can understand that
the poet is reminding us of how we invite people to our homes and for tea then he later says 'and
when I come again and feel at home, once, twice, there will be no thrice' by saying this the poet
means that when the invited person does feel at home once then it is okay; when he does this a
second time then it is also accepted; but when he tries the third time...well there will be no third
time as in the person inviting will not allow you to come as he goes on to say 'for then I find the
doors shut on me'. In the third stanza the poet is saying that when people invite each other for
tea, for dinner or just to his/her house then they will allow them to come a couple of times with
pleasure but after while they will get fed up and slam the doors shut on you; in other words not
allow you to come into their house.

Gabriel Okara says in the second line of stanza four 'I have learned to wear many faces' which
shows that he has adapted to using different faces for different occasions when he goes on to
saying some of the occasions and their faces 'officeface, streetface....', then he finally goes on to
say 'like a fixed portrait smile' which indicates that all these faces never change and it is like a
smile fixed for its own occasion. Summing up stanza four, this stanza has been focused on how
people tend to change their facial expressions for different occasions and how for each occasion
people tend to have a different smile like a fixed picture that never changes.

The poet starts off stanza five by signifying that he also has adapted to the environment around
him and that he has also picked up the bad habits that are hovering around him by saying 'and I
have learned too', he then says 'to laugh with only me teeth' which suggests that he also has learnt
how to laugh without happiness and laugh only for the sake of laughing and then the writer goes
on and writes 'I have also learned to say,' goodbye', when I mean 'good-riddance': to say' glad to
meet you', without being glad' this demonstrates that that now he has also learnt how to say
goodbye in a nice way and not mean it in a good way at all as he says when he means good
riddance, he now says 'glad to meet you' without being pleased as he says 'after being bored'
which indicates that it was boring meeting the person ,however he put on a smiley and cheerful
face whilst talking to him. To summarize this stanza the writer is saying that there are no true
emotions in his words and feelings and they are said with just his tongue and not his heart.
Overall in this stanza the writer shows how his environment has had impact on how he behaves,
how he is emotionally detached from other people, how it has destroyed his passion and made
his heart unfeeling.

In stanza six the poet describes how he used to be. It seems that he is talking to a child or a
young man who has not yet experienced the changing of heart who has not yet been influenced
by the environment and the society in which he lives. The poet says in the first line of stanza six
'but believe me, son' emphasising with regret 'I want to be what I used to be...I want to unlearn
all these muting things...I want to relearn how to laugh' these lines describe his desperation to go
back to his old and innocent ways where he felt life was simple and his emotions were honest
emotions. It also describes his hope and desire to unlearn all the bad habits he has picked up over
the years.

In stanza seven he asks the 'son' almost pleads with him to 'show me, son, how to laugh; show
me how I used to laugh and smile' the writer sums up what he has been trying to say through out
the whole poem to the person he is having the conversation with that teach him all the good
habits he has lost and teach him to have true emotions.

The poem does not rhyme but the poet has used repetition to slow the poem down and make the
reader feel the heaviness of heart that the poet feels. The poet uses similes and metaphors
throughout the poem for example when he says 'I have learned to wear many faces like dresses'
implying different expressions for different occasions. The poet has used a very strong metaphor
when he writes that his laugh in the mirror is 'like a snakes bare fangs'. A snake is commonly
used in mythology and fairy tales to describe evil, insincerity and dishonesty. This suggests that
when he laughs you see his teeth and smile but his intentions are also insincere and dishonest.

The poet Gabriel Okara uses this poem to convey his feelings about the loss of traditional
African culture against western influences. The overall theme of this poem is about happier times
gone past and hopes for a happy ending, for which the writer longs for, as in a fairy tale and
therefore the use of 'ONCE UPON A TIME' as the title of this poem.

This is a poem by the Nigerian poet Gabriel Okara, in which he laments the lost innocence of
youth. In it he condemns the hypocrisy of adults hemmed in and constrained by rules and
conventions adopting masks for different occasions: for lying, cheating and betraying
whereas childhood is portrayed as a time of honest laughter, and spontaneity.

Once Upon a Time


Once upon a time, son,
they used to laugh with their hearts
and laugh with their eyes:
but now they only laugh with their teeth,
while their ice-block-cold eyes
search behind my shadow.

There was a time indeed


they used to shake hands with their hearts:
but thats gone, son.
Now they shake hands without hearts
while their left hands search
my empty pockets.

Feel at home! Come again:


they say, and when I come
again and feel
at home, once, twice,
there will be no thrice-
for then I find doors shut on me.

So I have learned many things, son.


I have learned to wear many faces
like dresses homeface,
officeface, streetface, hostface,
cocktailface, with all their conforming smiles
like a fixed portrait smile.

And I have learned too


to laugh with only my teeth
and shake hands without my heart.
I have also learned to say,Goodbye,
when I mean Good-riddance:
to say Glad to meet you,
without being glad; and to say Its been
nice talking to you, after being bored.

But believe me, son.


I want to be what I used to be
when I was like you. I want
to unlearn all these muting things.
Most of all, I want to relearn
how to laugh, for my laugh in the mirror
shows only my teeth like a snakes bare fangs!

So show me, son,


how to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
once upon a time when I was like you.