We Real Cool

505 Words3 Pages
Introduction “We Real Cool,” perhaps Brooks’ single best-known poem, subjects a similarly representative experience to an intricate technical and thematic scrutiny, at once loving and critical. The poem is only twenty-four words long, including eight repetitions of the word “we.” It is suggestive that the subtitle of “We Real Cool” specifies the presence of only seven pool players at the “Golden Shovel.” The eighth “we” suggests that poet and reader share, on some level, the desperation of the group-voice that Brooks transmits. The final sentence, “We/ die soon,” restates the carpe diem motif in the vernacular of Chicago’s South Side. Analysis This poem has a touch of freshness of youth mixed with carelessness and the rebellious…show more content…
Read in this way, the poem takes on a slightly distant and ironic tone, emphasizing the artificiality of the group identity which involves the characters in activities offering early death as the only release from pain. Conversely, the poem can be read with a strong accent on each “we,” affirming the group identity. Although the experience still ends with early death, the pool players metamorphose into defiant heroes determined to resist the alienating environment. Their confrontation with experience is felt, if not articulated, as existentially pure. Pool players, poet, and reader cannot be sure which stress is valid (Kent, 15). Brooks crafts the poem, however, to hint at an underlying coherence in the defiance. The intricate internal rhyme scheme echoes the sound of nearly every word. Not only do the first seven lines end with “we,” but the penultimate words of each line in each stanza also rhyme (cool/school, late/straight, sin/gin, June/soon). In addition, the alliterated consonant of the last line of each stanza is repeated in the first line of the next stanza (Left/lurk, Strike/sin, gin/June) and the first words of each line in the middle two stanzas are connected through consonance (Lurk/strike, Sing/thin). The one exception to this suggestive texture of sound is the word “Die” which introduces both a new vowel and a new consonant into the final line, breaking the rhythm and subjecting the performance to ironic revaluation. Ultimately, the power

More about We Real Cool

Open Document