Analyzing the poem “We Real Cool”
The poem “We Real Cool” written by the famous African- American author Gwendolyn Brooks, challenges the understanding of her readers as they read her powerful, but short poem ” We Real Cool.” She captures the fearlessness and invincible attitude of the Seven Pool Players in the poem. Some believe these boys to be African- American inner-city school age males. They live their lives on the edge and it surely leads to disaster, bringing their short lived lives to a tragic and abrupt end. In “We Real Cool,” Brooks makes a bold illustration to the lives of seven young men as they fall to their dark destiny, using straightforward language and no versification as of the race of the young men.
Although the author Gwendolyn Brooks describes the events and down falls of any young male that drops out of school, Harold Bloom writes in his article “Because this first line is in a colloquially spoken form that many critics have argued as resembling the slang of the African-American in the inner-cities.” Arguing this statement, the Seven Pool Players in the poem can represent any race of young men in America. It is stereotypical to assume that the colloquial English and behavior of these boys could only be attached to an African- American male. African- American males are not the only race of children who drop out of school and behave as these children in the poem. No matter what the race anyone that drops out of school and lives life recklessly can have a bleak future.
The language of the poem is straightforward and precise. The poem allows the reader to imagine beyond the word the author used to describe the Seven Pool Players and the inevitable course of events leading to their dark and tragic futures, in her short poem focused on rhyme in a couplet format. Every line has a meaning to support it. The line “We real cool” (1) aides the author in pointing out the insecurities of the young men, feeling the need to be a part of something, to be in unity with others, and afraid to be standing alone. The line expresses arrogance among the boys; thus, they believe that they are doing more interesting things than the other children their age. In the next line “We Left school”(2) the author reveals these young men are dropouts and are hanging out at the local pool hall, instead of furthering their education and becoming responsible young adults, their new found reputation does not allow them to abide by the rule of school. The next entry “We Lurk late” (3) helps the author to suggest that these young males have no respect for curfew. Their staying out until the bewitching hours of the night bring about a negative example of their juvenile delinquency. The “We Strike straight” (4) may lead one to believe this line of the poem confesses to the violent activities of the Pool Players using fists and/or weapons to strike their enemies. The word strike has nothing to do with playing pool; it is a term commonly used for bowling and baseball. Moreover, the “We Sing sin” (5) line of the poem gives the author an opportunity to link religion into the poem, speculating that the song the boys choose to sing is sinful. From generation to generation, music tends to became more explicit, and adults complain about the lyrics of the songs and the sexual content that they possess. They believe it causes corruption among young impressionable children. Also Brooks illustrates “We Thin gin” (6) relates that minor children are indulging in alcoholic beverages. This displays illegal events taking place as the young boys pride themselves on their bad habits and/or behavior. As written in the selection the line “We Jazz June” (7) gives the reader the idea of sexual intercourse between the young boys and a female name June. Jazz is a style of music, but in other terms jazz is a reply in slang to something that the listener does not care to hear: “You talking all that jazz.” However, outside of music the word jazz has a tarnished tone attached to it. Thus, June will always be capitalized due to the fact that it is a month out of the year, yet it can also be a name of a female and one can have sex with a female, but one cannot jazz a month. Finally, “We Die soon.” Due to the inevitable course of events that the Seven Pool Players are engaging in the author foreshadows the early death of the young school age male children. The entry is meant to capture the attention of the reader. The boys actions in the poem reveals the fact according to the Bible, Matthew 26:52 in King James Version “Live by the sword, die by the sword.”
Then said Jesus onto him, put up again thy sword into His place: for all they that take the sword shall perish With the sword-Matthew 26:52, King James Version.
The Seven Pool Players set forward manifestations of failure in their young paths. The boys' trying to be cool, leaving school, staying out late, fighting, listening to racy music, drinking alcohol, and having sex has all lead up to the moral suicide of these young men that will eventually cost them their young lives. The Gwendolyn Brooks explains “The We in ‘We Real Cool' are tiny, wispy, weakly argumentative ‘Kilroy- is-here' announcements.” The Kilroy-was-here is a doodle that is drawn on walls by United States service men during World War II and through the Korean War, to alert others that they had been in the area at some point and time. The minor boys have branded themselves juvenile delinquents, menaces to society, and dead men walking.
In conclusion, analyzing the poem “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks, it is found to be a short and straight to the point poem, which implies different meaning considering the individual's interpretation. It gives the view inside the lives of seven young men who have made the ultimate sacrifice for fun and/or adventure: their young lives. The race of the boys is not verified, but the important matter in the situation is there are human lives at stake, not an ethnicity. The harm that these boys are causing to themselves and others will bring their lives to a premature end, with no one to blame, but themselves.
Bloom, Harold” critical analysis of”We Real Cool.” Bloom's Major Poets: Gwendolyn(2003) 40- 43 Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 2 Feb.2010
Brooks, Gwendolyn. Reports from Part One. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1972.Web. 2 Feb. 2010
Gwendolyn Brooks, Her Poetry and Fictoin. Ed. Maria K. Mootry and Gary Smith. Copyright 1987 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Web 2 Feb.2010
Spiller, Hortense J. From “Gwendolyn the Terrible: Proposition on Eleven Poems” in A Life Distilled: Web. 2 Feb. 2010
The Bible. Print. King James Vers. 13 Feb, 2010