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

Literary devices used in Gwendolyn Brooks's poem "We Real Cool" include monosyllabic lexis, enjambment, internal rhyme, and parallel syntax.

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Almost all of the poem is written with monosyllabic lexis , meaning words which are comprised of only one syllable. In fact, there are only four words in the whole poem which have more than one syllable, and all four are in the first stanza. The repetition of this monosyllabic...

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Almost all of the poem is written with monosyllabic lexis, meaning words which are comprised of only one syllable. In fact, there are only four words in the whole poem which have more than one syllable, and all four are in the first stanza. The repetition of this monosyllabic lexis creates a stunted, repetitive rhythm which suggests the vapidity and inanity of the supposed coolness of the "Pool Players."

There is also lots of enjambment in the poem. Enjambment is when one sentence, or clause, runs across two lines. The line "We / Left school" is an example of enjambment, as the line breaks after the word "We." All of the subsequent enjambed sentences in the poem break after the word "We," and this creates a conspicuous pause after that word, emphasizing perhaps the herd mentality of people like the "Pool Players."

Throughout the poem there are lots of internal rhymes. For example, the words "school" and "cool" are internal rhymes in the second stanza, and the words "late" and straight" are internal rhymes in the third stanza. These simple internal rhymes contribute to the aforementioned repetitive rhythm of the poem.

This repetitive rhythm is also created by the parallel syntax in the poem. All of the three-word lines in the poem have the same syntactical structure, whereby the first of the three words is the subject of the sentence, the second of the three words is the verb, and the third of the three words is the noun or the adverb. For example, in the sentence "We Jazz June," the subject of the sentence is "We," the verb is "Jazz," and the noun is "June." This parallel syntax contributes to the repetitive rhythm and also emphasizes the impression of the simplicity and vapidity of the "Pool Players."

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Besides the devices you've mentioned, this poem makes incredible use of other sound devices such as alliteration (repetition of initial consonant sound), consonance (repetition of final consonant sound), assonance (repetition of vowel sound), slant rhyme (any kind of sound similarity), and rhyme (repetition of all sounds from vowel through end of word).

In line 1, the repetition of the long "e" sound is assonance.  The repetition of the "l" sound at the end of "real" and "cool" is consonance.  "Cool" and "school" rhyme, and if we add the "l" sound at the beginning of "Left" and end of "school" in line 2, we also have slant rhyme.  

In line 3, the "l" sound from "Left" in line 2 is repeated in "Lurk" and "late" for alliteration; "late" in line 3 rhymes with "straight" in line 4, and there is alliteration in line 4 in "Strike" and "straight."

This alliteration is carried to the next line in the words "Sing sin" (line 5); "sin," "Thin," and "gin" all rhyme (lines 5-6).

The "j" sound that begins the word "gin" on line 5 is repeated in the initial "j" sound of the words "Jazz" and "June" on line 7, for alliteration; and then "June" (line 7) and "soon" (line 8) rhyme.  

Obviously, the word "We" is repeated as the last word of all but one line -- epistrophe -- and so all those "We"s are connected to one another via the same sounds.  

Therefore, every single word in the poem is connected, via some sound device, to another word in either the same line, the line above, or the line below, except for the word "Die" in line 8.  This word is sort of floating in a sea of sounds that all have things in common with each other, though this word is untethered to any other nearby, making it stand out.  This line also stands out because it is the only to lack the "We" at the end.  These two major differences in sound help to draw our attention to the irony of the speaker's pride considering the ultimate effects of such a lifestyle.

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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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