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Yet Do I Marvel

12 Oct 2017Literature Essays

The poem Yet Do I Marvel is written by Countee Cullen seemingly addressed to God. It connects human situations like the discrimination of black people, and punishments anchored in Greek mythologies to the existence of God.

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"I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind..." is an allusion to popular Christian belief that God is good, and the greatest, which was also acknowledged by the poet. However, in the progress of his poem, he showed his loose attachment to Christian faith. Even if he was apparently praising God for the explanations He made with the blindness of the mole and death of man, or to the punishments received by Tantalus and Sisyphus, his poem rose to another interpretation. God should never explain what he does for the simplest reason that

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He is the God. He should have made this clear to himself. "What awful brain compels His awful hand..." is another evidence of his inclination to blasphemy. The use of the awful brought down the level of God to a status that He could be questioned and criticized by the poet. Buried in the lines of the poem is the appreciation of the poet for the power of God to create all of the stated events.

"Yet do I marvel at this curious thing: To make a poet black, and bid him sing" showcases the biggest question from the poet himself. He wanted to ask why he was made a poet, and at the same time, black, if he was destined to say something to the world. During the time the poem was written, it was very difficult for poets, who are black, like Cullen, to voice what they have in their hearts and minds. This is a reflection of the state in his mind that if he was given the choice, he should have been white, and not black.


  • Cullen, C. 2006. Yet Do I Marvel. In Concise Anthology of American Literature. G McMichael & JS Leonard. 6th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. 1735.


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