We Real Cool
Gwendolyn Brooks – 1917-2000

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

The poem “We Real Cool”  is about rebellion. The poem spoken about African American teenagers playing pool in the Golden Shovel. The poem “We real cool” only contains 24 words, it is short and simple. The poem “We Real Cool” has end rhyme and internal rhyme “cool” and  “school”; “late” and “straight”; “sin” and  “gin”; “June” and “soon”. Also, every line of the poem contains 3 words, starting with “we”. The repeated “we” bind the poem together, representing the brotherhood of the teenagers. The simple and strong words represent the brief life of pool players in this poem. 

The poem draws the picture of those teenagers as rebels. Those teenagers choose pool over school, drop out of studies, have late alcoholic nights, and go out on the street rather than dull nights in. They defy convention and authority, willing to sacrifice their lives. On the one hand, these pool players represent everyone who’s played hooky and pushed back against authority. The poem expresses the idea that rebellion comes with a cost. The poem implies that the price of living fast is to die young.

    The poem’s last lines, “we die soon,” take on a tone of sadness, as the group of young people who are part of a gang is risking their lives as they challenge the authority. It also calls back to the poem’s first line, “we real cool.”
    The poem expresses the theme of rebellion, which is still a big thing for teenagers now. The poem warned us about the consequence of living a life with abandon. It meditates with pathos and sincerity on how youthful rebellion can cut lives short. Eduction can significantly change one’s behavior and attitude. We are enabled to think critically about any issue and bring desirable change. Eduction can help us raise voices for their own justice. Progressive Education connects us with society and culture. They develop a democratic attitude and inculcate faith in rationality.


Brooks , G. (1960). We real cool by Gwendolyn Brooks – poems | academy of American poets. Poets.org. Retrieved March 26, 2022, from https://poets.org/poem/we-real-cool
Jacqueline. (2016, March 25). Back to school poems: We real cool and the hand. English with a Smile. Retrieved March 26, 2022, from https://englishwithasmile.org/2015/08/21/back-to-school-poems/
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