Poets And Poetry

Poetry Analysis we Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks



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"We Real Cool" definitely has a powerful message behind it. Gwendolyn Brooks illustrates the essence of troubled teenagers who will eventually suffer the ill-fated possibility that life renders a human being if they continue the lifestyle of the streets — death.

The teenagers are obviously not too fond about attending school. Therefore, they skip and find solace and pleasure at a pool facility. It seems as if the teenagers really don't care about their education and go day by day living a happy-go-lucky lifestyle. The happiness that they are feeling by playing pool supports that theory.

They sing.  They drink.  They play.  In all, they do anything to capture that feeling of ecstasy. A nonchalant attitude about the players' persona clearly resonates throughout the poem.

The constant usage of the word "We" may indicate that these boys are proclaiming their arrival at the pool facility as if they have been there before. The bottom line is apparent: the seven young men find their comfort at the poolroom, rather than school.

The entire tone of the poem is very upbeat; however, the tone changes dramatically at the end with the following statement: "We die soon." This one line alone says a lot.

In a more in depth analysis of the final line (which refers to death), the subtitle of the poem states: THE POOL PLAYERS. SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL. The number "seven" has the aura of good fortune while the boys shoot pool. Moreover, the word "golden" typifies prosperity and happiness, akin to how the boys are feeling. However, the word "shovel" signifies an ominous sign, relating to death, casket, funeral and later burial. Brooks implies that street people will eventually die soon. These young men are obviously street people because they are not in school.

They have no education; they live a carefree life; and they could not care less about school because they find it tedious. Therefore, that will make it difficult for them to find a job and live a decent lifestyle, which basically leaves them no choice but to live the street life.

Their lives have no direction, and they don't really care about anything — not even their well-being for the future. They have no sense of themselves and are not aware of the importance of education, which will sooner or later become their downfall.

Their poor decision serves no advantage to them in any way, because they will not be active participants in society. Without a high school diploma, their journey to find a decent job will be arduous and limited. Such difficulty may possibly turn the boys into criminals.

These young men are clearly dropouts and perhaps black, supported by the lingo of the poem. In fact, the title, "We Real Cool," breaks the rule of proper English because it's slang.

Even though the poem was written in 1960, it mirrors the situation of today, for many young men and even young women skip school every day — not to mention those who dropout.

Gwendolyn Brooks does an excellent job with this piece. With its monosyllabic and eight-line structure, the poem is to the point and frank.

"We Real Cool" is impressive and has a profound implication: no education (i.e., skipping an institution of schooling that provides knowledge) and living a carefree lifestyle as a dropout — compounded with street life — will most likely lead to death.

More about this author: Hamlet Pericles

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