Textuality » 3A Interacting

VLepre - New poems for analysis (5)
by VLepre - (2011-11-14)
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The poem "We real Cool" was written by Gwendolyn Brooks in 1966. The title is a generic statement, but the capital "C" in the word "Cool" creates curiosity in the reader and induces him/her to continue the reading.
The poem is about seven pool players and their bad behavior (leaving school; lurking late; striking straight; singing sins; thinning gin; jazzing June) which conduce to a close, sudden and unavoidable death.
The meaning of the poem can be generalized to all the human beings; people who do not care and insult the others and who are worried only to enjoy themself will die soon or even cause other people die. However, until the instant of the death, they remain cool (we real Cool), indifferent, or even proud of this. Besides, the seven players may be associated with the seven capital sins. Furthermore, they meet at the Golden Shovel, which represents the lust for money and the debauchery of their actions.
The poem is arranged into five stanzas of two lines each; the first stanza introduces the topic, while the others describe their bad habit. Almost every line contains an alliteration (verb and object/adverb start with the same letter), to create a sense of unawareness and entertainment. On the contrary, the last line does not present it, because it expresses the death. The poem is written in the first person plural to express the conceit of the protagonists. From the second stanza there is the enjambment between "we" and its verb in every line. This symbolizes the distance between the actions and the person who acts them, as he/she are external and cool from the events.


The poem "The Altar" was written by George Herbert in 1633. The title makes the reader expect the poem to be about a particular topic and the private impressions which it arouses for the speaking voice. Besides, the definite article implies that the object is generalized. The poem also relies greatly upon its layout, which resembles the one of a Christian church altar. Probably, the speaking voice coincides with the one of the poet, because he uses first person pronouns and speaks directly to the interlocutor.
The poem is a religious prayer. First, the poet turns to the Lord, praises him and tells him he cares of a "broken altar, made of a heart and cemented with tears". Then, in the narrower part of the poem, the voice states a heart alone is a stone, which nothing but the Lord's power can cut, and adds his heart itself is hard in order to praise his Name, if he has the possibility to hold his peace. Finally, he concludes blessing the Lord to make the sacrifice his and to sanctify the altar for him.
The poem is arranged in one stanza subdivided into three parts. The first functions as introduction and compliment to the Lord, while the last is a conclusion and a request of blessing. The middle part is the most important, because conveys the meaning of the poem. The "broken altar" is the heart without the support of religion which the servants of the Lord have to care about and to draw up Christianity, even with tears, and to hold peace in it, in order not to transform it in stone. This sacrifice will be rewarded later. Furthermore, the poem tells the reader that believing in God is essential, because He has created us in a manner incomparable to the work of humans.
The rhythm is slow and the solemnity of the atmosphere is given by the rhyming couplets. The language shows elements of old English (hath, thy, thee, etc.). The word order is sometimes inverted to create rhymes.