To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me-
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening…
A tall, slim tree…
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Langston Hughes's poem Dream Variations


  1. tash says:

    well, i have to write an english paper on this poem, and i got so many ideas from reading your comments. thank you!!!!

  2. Josh says:

    I used to thnk poetry was the dullest thing but after studying it in English i have realised its pretty cool and this poem by Langston Hughes and changed my feelings towards poetry.

  3. john says:

    i love this poem. this is a great poem.

  4. Charity says:

    The first stanza was a representation of a white persons day. It is his dream to be able to experience the life of a white man. The second stanza represented the reality. He is a black man whose days are dry and sad and he is demanded to work. Notice at the end of the second stanza he doesn’t repeat, “That is my dream..” Why? Because its reality. Comeon people its plain and clear what the poem is about. I just wish people would try to stop sugar coating the real meaning!

  5. toy says:

    I really like this poem I disagree with all the other comments.

  6. zainab says:

    who really understands this poem?
    we dont really “dream” these days although we have a lot of reasons to do so.
    we dont consider the night ours any more either….if u get me…

  7. katherine says:

    nice poem

  8. eric says:

    I must agree with Ranata, the first verse is the dream and the second verse is the variation. Huhges’ narrator is the victim of oppression, and he is dancing “some place of the sun”. He calmly says, “to whirl and to dance,” while in the second verse he is clearly more excited. As if there is no opression anymore, he exclaims, “DANCE! WHIRL!”. Obviously, the second verse is the variation.

  9. Payton says:

    I agree with most of the comments on the first stanza. I think it is a black child/slave/man, who is just dreaming of being free and dancing in the daylight.

    The second stanza, I see differently. I still see it as reality, but instead of a harsh reality I see it as glorious. His wording seems to imply defiance of the oppressors who are forbidding him from dancing. At least, that’s how I read it. He mentions dancing “in the face of the sun.” and the “Dance! Whirl! Whirl!” seems to be showing him outright, blatently defying them.

    as for the second half of that stanza, I like the comment some one made earlier about lynching.
    He’s using elipses to just let sentences and thoughts trail off without really being completed. He uses the word “pale,” which sort of shows illness or uh-health in the place of “cool” which seems more comfortable and restful. And mabe the word “tenderly” isn’t implying tender as in a tender kiss. Mabey instead it means tender like the way people say their arm is a little tender when they’ve hurt it.

    just a thought. I’m no poet, though, so you can take it or leave it. ^_^

  10. frank says:

    yes . what a geat poet!
    what’s about his dream o f freedom?

  11. ranata says:

    i disagree with a lot of the comments on this poem. Some believe that it is the dream of a young child, black man, slave, etc., and that the first verse is the “dreamy”, and possibly naive version, and the second verse illustrates reality. i believe it is the other way around. in the first verse, it is a person’s dream, but he or she has yet to have that dream realized. the words seemed confined and unrelaxed. the phrase, “some place of the sun” on the second line indicates that he/she doesn’t have any definite direction, they just want to go SOMEWHERE. the last line of the first verse, “that is my dream” shows that IT IS STILL A DREAM, in opposition to the last line of the second stanza which is final. the second stanza shows the same person, but they have finally reached there goal. their words are bolder and definite. for example, in the fist stanza the person says, “in some place of teh sun”, in teh second stanza the person says “in the face of the sun”.

    …if i used this for an english grade, how’d you think i’d do?

  12. Jessica says:

    this poem is written with a beat and once in a while, a line that has a completely different beat. i love thie poem and with other poems by Langston Hughes. x]

  13. Robyn says:

    I think of this poem completely differently. I see the first verse as the dream of a dancer who just wants to dance for his own amusement. The second verse is the reality of that same dancer who is dancing for white people “in the face of the sun” not “in some place in the sun”. This reality has taken some of the joy out of dancing for him since he is no longer doing it for himself.

  14. sarah bennett says:

    this poem has touched my heart simply because i see it as a dark skninned child who is dreaming of playing, danceing, and doing all the fun things children do. but he can not. the second verse is this same dark boy, but several years older. dreaming of the same thing, but sees it as a worst time period. you can see the harshness of the second peom by the different words used.and the sifferent puncuation used.

  15. Ayasha says:

    I believe this poem is talking about a black slave. He dreams that he can whirl and dance in the daytime instead of working for the white man.

  16. Nicky says:

    I think it is okay but he did not add thtat one i love the best

  17. Windsor says:

    the peoms subject is deep enough to write an entire paper and thank you all for your comments it made me able to write my paper Thanks

  18. Dmitri Rodik says:

    I had to do an explication on this poem for my poetry class. I couldnt find any on the net at the time i was doing my, so ill post my up for whoever needs it. It is still kind of incomplete. Post your comments!

    The poem “Dream Variations” by Langston Hughes is a powerful poem about a black man’s dream and reality. At first glance this poem seems to suggest that there are two variations of one dream, however, there is only one variation. This “dream variation” is illustrated in the first paragraph. On the other hand, the second paragraph is an illustration of reality.
    The first paragraph of this poem clearly gives the reader a sense of warmth and dreamlike atmosphere. It is marked by calm and warm lines and adjectives. Lines such as “To whirl and to dance”, “While night comes on gently”, and “In some place of the sun”; and adjectives such as “gently”, “cool”, and “white” reinforce this warm, dreamlike atmosphere. This sense of dreamlike atmosphere is also amplified by the use of assonance and rhyme. While the reader reads the repeating and assonating sounds, the warmth and dreamy atmosphere reverberates in his head.
    Contrary to the first paragraph, the second paragraph is harsh sounding. It is very direct, it is stripped of warmth, and does not have a dream-like atmosphere—it is reality. In the first paragraph, the author says “To whirl and to dance” now he says “Dance! Whirl! Whirl!” as if someone is forcing him to dance and whirl. Also, in the first paragraph he says “In some place of the sun” now he says “In the face of the sun” as if the sun is staring down at him in contempt. Subtle changes are the difference between these two paragraphs; however, these subtleties are what portray the sense of harshness and realism.

  19. andy roddick says:

    i’m gonna make a good run at the french this year and advance past the 3rd round for the first time in my career.

  20. Rao says:

    Wonderful poem. And I remembered a lady wearing a T-
    shirt which read “God made be black because he knew that I can handle it”

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