This poem is about a boy who asks whether you have heard the boogie-woogie rumble of a dream deferred. It asks the reader to listen closely to the beating out of a beat which the "you" of the poem has assumed is a happy beat. Hughes uses the framework of bebop jazz by using quick short lines, sudden changes in rhythm, and a voice associated with spirit of bebop. The poet claims that he/she is happy and the poem ends with several be-bop sound-exclamations. "Langston Hughes’s 'Dream Boogie' is a poem that exposes the racial misery underlying the musical revelry of jazz, laying bare the agony that begets the art form even as the work exalts in it" (Brown 295).
Good morning, daddy!
Ain't you heard
The boogie-woogie rumble
Of a dream deferred?
You'll hear their feet
Beating out and beating out a -
It's a happy beat?
Listen to it closely:
Ain't you heard
like a -
What did I say?
Take it away!
The first stanza starts off with "Good morning, daddy!" which sets the tone for the poem. It establishes the jazz voice by the use of the slang word "daddy." The speaker is trying to get his audience to recognize the metaphorical discontent that lies beneath the lyrics.
The next stanza alludes to the message in the previous stanza involving the rumble beneath the bebop melody of a dream deferred. The rumble has turned into a fierce pounding in the stanza. The next two lines are, "You think / It's a happy beat?" in which the listener says interrupting the speaker. The listener believes it is a happy beat because the rhythm of the music. This symbolizes the relationship between race and happiness because the listener perceives jazz as literal happiness(Brown 297).
The speaker's entreaty is again interrupted in the fourth stanza by the listener. The speaker is cut off at the end of the stanza before he can say dream deferred again which signifies the oppression of African Americans. The speaker responds to the interruption with three short lines. The speaker is obviously frustrated and is done trying to get through to the listener. The final line in sixth stanza reads, "Take it away!" which has a double meaning. The first is for the listener to lead the music in the call and response pattern of the jazz poem. The second is a metaphor for the burdens the speaker wants to get rid of (Brown 297).
The rest of the poem belies any chance for the listener to understand the speaker. This is exactly the point Hughes wants to make. He is trying to show how Blacks aren't understood and that white people need to listen. He protests in the poem the challenges African Americans face and that they will be fixed. The speaker and listener unite to read the final four lines of the poem. "Hughes's 'Dream Boogie' is thus not only an anecdote of two speakers' disconnection but also the rising, rumbling rhythm of a people's discontent" (Brown 298)