The next image in the poem “fester like” a sore and then run” conveys a sense of infection and pain. Comparing the dream to a sore of a body, the poet suggests that unfulfilled dreams become part of us, like a longstanding injury that has gathered pus. The word “fester” connotes something decay and “run” literally refers to pus. From this viewpoint of the speaker, this denotes to the pain that one has when one’s dreams always defers. A postponed dream is like a painful injury that begins to be infected.
Mother to Son
Dinner Guest: Me
Po' Boy Blues
I, Too, Sing America
Madam and the Phone Bill Your browser does not support the IFRAME tag.
This recording features two of Hughes's best known poems. One of Hughes's poetic innovations was to draw on the rhythms of black musical traditions such as jazz and blues, but in 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers' it's the heritage of Negro spirituals which is recalled by the poem's majestic imagery and sonorous repetitions. Written when Hughes was only seventeen as he travelled by train across the Mississippi, 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers' is a beautiful statement of strength in the history of black people, which Hughes imagines stretching as far back as ancient Egypt and further into Africa and the cradle of civilisation. The poem returns at the end to America in a moment of optimistic alchemy when he sees the "muddy bosom" of the Mississippi "turn all golden in the sunset".