Literary Poop with Professor Nannerpants – Analysis of “Dreams” by Langston Hughes

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Professor Horatio J. Nannerpants, Professional Simian Literary Professor/Semi-Professional Poop Flinger

Ah, hello again 3.5 students.  How splendid to see you are still taking time out of your busy schedules to read literature.  Books are food for the mind you know.

Just be sure to find an equal amount of time to fling your poop.  In fact, I dare pose this brain teaser to you:

If a poop is left unflung, was it ever really pooped to begin with?

I’ll let that nugget simmer in your mental stew.  In the meantime, it is Black History Month and thus a time of year where we literary scholars are reminded to peruse the contributions of African American poets and writers to the cultural zeitgeist.  Google “zeitgeist,” 3.5 students, I swear it is a real word.

In this humble professor’s opinion, these contributions must be studied all year long.  In fact, based on conversations I have had with one Mr. Bookshelf Q. Battler, the former proprietor of this blog before Ms. Video Game Rack Fighter won custody of this blog and its 3.5 readers in a divorce case, BQB is particularly fond of this poem:

Dreams

By: Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Eight lines.  Like your humble professor, this poem is short and sweet.  And yet, if you delve deeper into these words, you’ll find so much meaning.

When we’re children, the world is our oyster.  Technically speaking, no outcome is impossible for a child because children possess so much of the most crucial of resources: time.  A forty year old drive-through worker who tells you he wishes to be an NBA basketball player, or an Academy Award winning actor, or an astronaut has the odds against him.  This person may, in theory, be very capable, but he just does not have the time to make such achievements.

On the other hand, a ten year old who tells you he wishes to do all of these things does have the time.  Statistically speaking, the child will, upon reaching adulthood, realize the lesson that many learn, namely, that life is hard, that resources are limited, that there is just too much competition for too few opportunities.  However, until that child comes to that realization, the world is a happy place in his eyes.

I hesitate to put words into Mr. Hughes’ mouth but your professor has a take on the meaning of this poem.  It’s quite simple.  Ignore the realization of the statistically unlikely probability that you will not achieve your big dreams.

Yes, you know in your heart and in your brain that at forty, you will not become an astronaut, but keep looking for the stars and studying astronomy books in the hopes that you might make it happen.

No, you most likely will not take home a gold statue.  Audition for a part in your community theater’s horrendously tacky play anyway.

No, you aren’t going to be drafted by the NBA.  Don’t let that stop you from playing pick up games with your friends.

Take Mr. Battler for instance.  He is well aware that he has a better chance of being struck in the ass by lightning a second time (we all know this happened to him a first time) than he does at becoming a successful writer.

Does he let that stop him? No.  Why?  Because he knows if he stops writing, he will be left with nothing else to look forward to.  He’ll while away his hours watching television, playing video games, stuffing his suck hole with ding dongs, never, ever doing anything productive.

One might even say that at that point, Mr. Battler’s life will be like “a broken-winged bird that cannot fly” or even “a barren field frozen with snow.”

Mr. Battler’s life, without his precious, absurdly difficult to obtain dream, would become hopeless, just as hopeless as a bird who has tasted the joys of flight but will never experience it again…just as hopeless as a field that can’t be utilized for crops because the soil has gone bad and frozen over.

Do you want to feel as hopeless as a broken-winged bird or a barren, frozen field, 3.5 students?  No?  Good.  Then I don’t care how hopeless it seems.  I don’t care if you are ninety and you dream of becoming the next top pop star, you get your old, wrinkly ass to the garage and start squeezing your backside into a pair of tight pants, then start shaking your booty.

No, you will never replace Katy Perry.  Yes, you need to hope that you will in order to get through the day.

And there you have it.  Another fine example of our beloved English language, expertly explained by your all-knowing professor.

Are you pursuing a dream that is unlikely just to keep your life from become a broken-winged bird or a barren, frozen field?  Share your thoughts and fling your poop in the comments.

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