Study Guide

We Real Cool Stanza III

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Stanza III

Lines 5-6

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

  • The young men "sing" or "celebrate" sin, and they drink diluted ("thin") gin.
  • (Interesting fact: Brooks published this poem in 1960, and gin was the most popular spirit in America until the vodka craze started around mid-century.)
  • Do you see how the words on each line sound alike?
  • The word "sing" even contains "sin."
  • Once again, you can interpret this as favorable or unfavorable to the boys.
  • Either they're unable to do anything but repeat simple sounds and rhymes, or they are brilliantly finding words that both sound like one another and make sense when placed next to one another.
  • It's proving hard to pass quick judgments on these guys, and we can't help but be seduced by the smoky, sultry rhythm of the poem.
  • In a musical context, the word "sing" can refer to regular songs, or it can mean poetry, which used to be considered a kind of song.
  • It also has connotations of celebration. For example, in his most famous work, "Song of Myself," Walt Whitman wrote, "I celebrate myself and sing myself."
  • When you see the word "sing" being used like this, you can usually know right away, "Ah-ha! Someone's been reading Whitman."
  • We certainly wish the speaker would tell us what "sins" she thinks the young men are celebrating.
  • Of course, at the time drinking and gambling were both considered sins or "vices" in respectable society, and since they're in a pool hall drinking gin, it's clear these guys do both.
  • But "sin" could run the gamut from drinking to casual sex to outright violence.
  • Needless to say, we're very curious about what else this word might imply.
  • (By the way, to "thin gin" means to add water or soda to dilute the strong alcohol taste. So "thin" is being used as a verb, just like the first words of the previous four lines.)

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