We Real Cool

We Real Cool

by Gwendolyn Brooks

               The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

Summary of We Real Cool

  • Popularity of “We Real Cool”: This short poem is written by Gwendolyn Brooks, a renowned American poet. We Real Cool is a brilliantly concise poem about a possible rebellious nature. First published in 1960 in her collection, The Bean Eaters, the poem revolves around a group of people who spend their time playing pool, abandoning a respectable way of living. It also highlights their level of satisfaction with how comfortable they are with their choices. The poet also lets readers know what happens with a rebellious attitude, and how it can cost them dearly.
  • “We Real Cool” As a Representative of Carefree Life: The poem presents a group of young people who love to play pool in the Golden Shovel. They feel comfortable with their choice in life that they even distance themselves from the establishment. They leave school and lurk until late at night. It seems that they have no plans for the future as they only wish to adore the present moments of life by drinking and singing. However, the poem ends with a serious confession of these buoyant players that they will die soon without any aim. It shows their acknowledgment of the path they are following. They know that it will not direct them toward anything good. In just a few words, the readers are given the carefree yet ironic ending of an aimless life.
  • Major Themes in “We Real Cool”: Self-destructive behavior, rebellion, and mortality are the significant themes of the poem. The poet has brilliantly highlighted the attitude of the people intoxicated with youth who tries to justify their rebellious stance. Despite knowing that their wrong choice will lead them to a destructive path, they are proud of their choice. The Golden Shovel, though seems attractive, yet is used to dig ditches, holes, and graves. Thus, they are knowingly dragging themselves toward destruction and purposeless life.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “We Real Cool”

literary devices are modes that enhance the intended impact of the poem. It is through these devices that writers express their ideas and emotions clearly. Gwendolyn Brooks has used some literary devices to make her poem appealing. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem is listed below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “Seven at the Golden Shovel” and the sound of /i/ in “Sing sin” and “Strike straight.”
  2. Allusion: Allusion is a belief and an indirect reference of a person, place, thing, or idea of historical, cultural, political, or literary significance. For example, the last stanza of the poem alludes to the Jazz Age, “We; Jazz June. We; Die soon”.
  3. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /p/ in “The Pool Players” and the sound of /s/ in “Strike straight” and “Sing sin.”
  4. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. Gwendolyn Brooks has repeated the word “we” throughout the poem to emphasize collectiveness and the young generation.
  5. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it rolls over to the next line. For example, “Sing sin. We; Thin gin. We; Jazz June. We; Die soon.”
  6. Foreshadowing: It is a figure of speech used to give an indication or hint of what is to come later in the story/poem. For example, in the end of the poem, the poet talks about the unavoidable death, “We; Die soon”.
  7. Imagery: The use of imagery enables the reader to understand the writer’s feelings and emotions. Gwendolyn has used imagery in this poem such as; “The Pool Players”, “Seven at the Golden Shovel” and “We left school.”
  8. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. The writer has used dramatic irony in the poem to show the rebellious attitude of the youth. For example, “We real cool. We; Left school. We; Lurk late”.
  9. Parataxis: It is a figure of speech in which words, phrases, clauses, and sentences are set next to each other to show that each element is equally important. For example, “We real cool. We; Left school. We”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “We Real Cool”

Poetic devices are part of literary devices and some of them differ in nature. With the help of poetic devices, the poet sets the mood of the poem and gives his text an indirect meaning. The analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem is given below.

  1. Couplet: There are two constructive lines of verse in a couplet, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme. There are five couplets in this poem.
  2. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “cool/school”, “sin/gin” and “June/soon.”
  3. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.
  4. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows an ABAB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues till the end.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are suitable for the teachers or parents while making their children understand the indifferent attitude of the students who adopt the rebellious behavior and feel proud of their choices.

“We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight.”