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The Poets

June 07, 2011

We Real Cool




We Real Cool
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.



Of the Poem:

I first read this poem about a year ago- it was written by Gwendolyn Brooks in 1959 and published the next year. It’s about the loose and potentially reckless lifestyle of a group of boys that Gwendolyn apparently knew.

The poem speaks of these teens hangin’ late at a pool hall drinkin’ gin and shootin’ stick. They’ve long dropped out of school and are most likely up to no good (‘we sing sin’).

The driving point of the poem is no doubt the last
enjambed line: we die soon … that is, there’s a looming consequence that attends the lifestyle these teens have appropriated. This seems to be a warning from Brooks.

The poem, being deceptively simple, is riddled with amazing structure and poetic devices:


-the stanzas are
couplets
-the end-rhymes fall on the second to the last word
-each stanza is enjambed (i.e. the first line continues into the following line)
-and there are
alliterations everywhere (e.g. lurk late, sing sin, jazz June)

There are other aspects that have me curious- for example: ‘strike straight’ in line 4 could also indicate fighting rather than just playing pool; ‘sing sin’ in line 6 is an excellent metaphor for vulgar language.

Anyhow, thought I’d share. Happy date of birth Mrs. Brooks …

6 comments:

Leslie Lim said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often..


Utada
www.imarksweb.org

John W. May said...

Thank you for your comment, Leslie. I also love reading- particularly philosophy, history, and theology ... and poetry, I love reading and writing. How about yourself- do you write poetry? I'd love to read some if you do.

lee woo said...

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Macy
www.gofastek.com

Cindy Dy said...

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Macy
www.gofastek.com

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