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It was a long time ago.
I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun—
My dream.
And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky—
The wall.
I am black.
I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.
My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
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!

Short Poem Analysis

"As I Grew Older" by Langston Hughes is a powerful and poignant poem that explores the theme of racial oppression and the struggle for individual identity. Through vivid imagery and metaphorical language, Hughes conveys the harsh realities faced by African Americans and the impact of systemic racism on their dreams and aspirations.

The poem begins with the speaker recounting a childhood dream of breaking through a wall to reach a beautiful, sunlit meadow. This dream serves as a metaphor for the speaker's hopes and dreams for a better future. However, as the speaker grows older, he realizes that the wall becomes an insurmountable barrier, representing the societal limitations and racial discrimination that impede his progress.

The imagery of the "darker" and "darker" wall symbolizes the growing awareness of racial oppression and the increasing difficulty of overcoming systemic barriers. The metaphorical wall becomes a powerful symbol of racial injustice and the suppression of individual potential.

The poem's tone evolves from the innocence of childhood dreams to the harsh reality of racial discrimination. The repeated use of the word "lie" in the lines "Lie on a wall / Until my dream / Is only a whisper of the soul" underscores the deception and betrayal experienced by the speaker as he confronts the limitations imposed by society.

"As I Grew Older" is a poignant exploration of the impact of racism on individual dreams and aspirations. It speaks to the broader issues of systemic oppression and the struggle for personal identity within a discriminatory society. The poem invites readers to reflect on the obstacles faced by marginalized communities and the importance of confronting and dismantling societal barriers to create a more equitable future.

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