“Well that’s depressing,” said my boyfriend as I showed him this journal page. And I can see why: regarding life as one big wait is awful. Plus, if we view the poem in an autobiographical light, we can depend upon it that in Hughes’ life as a black man in the 1920s the world was very far from “good and beautiful and kind” to him.
However, the poem is not dispiriting. Apart from giving the gritty pleasure of someone putting into words your own angry feelings, it also includes a call to action: to “cut the world in two” and analyse what the root of the problem is so we can address it.
Though I am hesitant to compare any hardship in my life to Hughes’, I’d say that the poem conveys the same kind of urgency as many people are feeling nowadays in regards to saving our planet within the next 11 years. Or the feeling of powerlessness in the face of the horrors we see on the news.
The poem’s power also lies in how direct and short it is. Though it contains a metaphor (I hope— a literal interpretation of “let us take a knife” would lead to a lot of violence) it doesn’t beat around the bush. On these journal pages I made the word ‘tired’ big because I read it as one long exasperated sigh, after which follows a pause to inhale and then the rest of the poem.
I am so tired of waiting,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?
Let us take a knife
And cut the world in two –
And see what worms are eating
At the rind.
The pages were made with acrylics (I had a lot of fun piling layers of paint on each other) and a white gel pen.