Wisdom And War, Langston Hughes: Summary & Analysis

"Wisdom And War" by Langston Hughes offers a stark commentary on the destructive nature of humanity's choices, highlighting the lack of caring and wisdom that perpetuate conflict and suffering. Through concise verses, the poem addresses the detrimental consequences of indifference and the ease with which violence is chosen over thoughtful resolution.

Wisdom And War

We do not care
That much is clear.
Not enough
Of us care
We are not wise
For that reason,
Mankind dies.
To think
Is much against
The will.
And easier
To kill.

Critical Analysis

"Wisdom And War" offers a concise and powerful critique of human behavior, highlighting the lack of care, wisdom, and consideration that lead to destructive outcomes. The poem addresses the choice between thoughtful contemplation and the easier path of violence.

The repeated refrain "We do not care" emphasizes the collective apathy that permeates society. This apathy, the poem suggests, is a root cause of destructive behavior.

The lines "Not enough / Of us care / Anywhere" underscore the widespread nature of indifference, hinting that a lack of compassion spans beyond individual contexts.

The poem presents the lack of wisdom as a key factor contributing to the downfall of humanity. The line "We are not wise / For that reason, / Mankind dies" draws a direct connection between the absence of wisdom and the destructive consequences that follow.

The lines "To think / Is much against / The will" suggest that active thought and contemplation are often resisted or neglected, while the choice to resort to violence is portrayed as easier and more convenient.

The stark conclusion "Better / And easier / To kill" encapsulates the harsh reality of how humanity often gravitates toward violent solutions rather than engaging in the difficult work of thoughtful problem-solving.

"Wisdom And War" serves as a thought-provoking commentary on the destructive tendencies of human behavior, urging readers to reflect on the consequences of indifference and the urgency of seeking wisdom in resolving conflicts.


"Wisdom And War" by Langston Hughes explores the interconnected themes of indifference, lack of wisdom, and violence. The poem laments the widespread apathy and the dire consequences of choosing violent solutions over thoughtful resolution. The poem serves as a call to recognize the importance of caring, wisdom, and empathy in creating a more compassionate and just world.

Themes of the Poem

  • Indifference and Apathy: The poem critiques the lack of care and concern that lead to destructive outcomes and perpetuate suffering.
  • Wisdom and Ignorance: The poem highlights the detrimental impact of a lack of wisdom and the consequences of thoughtless actions.
  • Violence as an Easy Solution: The poem contrasts the challenging act of thoughtful contemplation with the easier choice of resorting to violence.

Stylistic Analysis

  • Repetition: The repetition of phrases like "We do not care" and "Better / And easier / To kill" emphasizes key ideas and reinforces the poem's message.
  • Conciseness: The poem's brevity contributes to its impact, succinctly conveying the message while evoking reflection.


  • Indifference: The poem conveys a sense of disappointment and concern about the widespread lack of care and compassion.
  • Urgency: The poem's tone emphasizes the urgency of addressing indifference and violence to prevent destructive outcomes.


  • Direct Statements: The poem uses direct statements to communicate its message, highlighting the clear and unapologetic tone.
  • Contrasts: The poem contrasts caring and indifference, wisdom and ignorance, and thoughtful contemplation with violence.

Sound Devices

  • Rhythm: The poem's rhythmic structure contributes to its contemplative and measured pacing, emphasizing each statement.
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