In "We Real Cool," by Gwendolyn Brooks, why does the poet begin with "We" only in the first line instead of isolating each complete sentence on its own line?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The placement of the We at the end of lines imitates the movement of seven pool players who would step up to the table to take their turns after the previous player has shot.  In addition, by placing the We at the end of the line, Gwendolyn Brooks focuses the reader's attention on this first person pronoun as an isolated word, rather than as the subject of a sentence.  In this way, there is a boasting mood created.

In addition to this boasting mood, Ms. Brooks purposely omits the predicate of the first sentence.  With this omission and the careful selection of words, therefore, she sensitively suggests both their language and their view of the world. The rhythm of the lines is off-beat much like that of jazz, while the truncated sentences indicate the shortened lives of the males who have dropped out of school and turned to criminal activity.  Brooks wants those who read this poem to understand that the males who choose this kind of life find themselves at the end of many lines.

....We

Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We

Die soon.

The seven pool players at the "Golden Shovel" are suggestively collecting "gold" for a short time; however, with their fast paced lives that are involved in illegal activity, the "golden" life will be replaced by the "shovel" of death.

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