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What literary devices/strategies are used in the poem "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn...

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inkydog | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 26, 2010 at 11:01 PM via web

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What literary devices/strategies are used in the poem "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks?

I mean devices/strategies such as anaphora, ellipsis, epistrophe. Anything will help out. I have to write a paper discussing all of the literary devices used within the poem.

here is a copy:

"We Real Cool"

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

Thanks so much

3 Answers | Add Yours

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 27, 2010 at 2:42 AM (Answer #1)

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Epistrophy - "we" is the repeated word at the end of the successive clauses. It depends on how you look at it, but I see this as taking emphasis off the "we" and more emphasis on what "we" do.  This gives it somewhat of dark tone with the emphasis on play, sin, die, etc. And taking the emphasis away from the subject "we" conveys a constructed insignificance; in other words, it is as if the perception of the "we" in the poem is one of indifference; the perception of the "we" is tragic but almost nonchalant. 

You also have alliteration (sing sin).  That with the brevity of the poem gives it a kind of nursery rhyme tone. 

This may be a stretch, but it would be interesting to consider this as an enthymeme, which is an informally stated syllogism.  A syllogism would be something like this:

Living is a struggle.

All humans live. 

All humans struggle.

Brook's poem is not a direct or even an indirect syllogism or enthymeme.  But the prosody of it resembles one and if you consider the lifestyle (historical, cultural) of the pool players, you might assume that one thing leads to another (dropping out, drinking, singing sin, dying soon - young). 

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danielledafgard | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted July 14, 2011 at 1:17 PM (Answer #2)

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Antithesis-Brooks uses irony that manages to both contradict the beginning (we real cool/we die soon), and make the poem parallel.

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danielledafgard | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted July 14, 2011 at 1:18 PM (Answer #3)

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Ooops, I'm new.

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