Literature Analysis Paper on “Yet Do I Marvel Poem”

Literature Analysis Paper on  “Yet Do I Marvel Poem”

Countee Cullen composed the poem titled “Yet Do I Marvel” with the main intention of passing a message regarding his own way of understanding God especially his acts. The tone is a smooth one because he is not complaining but is marveled by the way in which God works. However, after going through the poem, it is easy to identify that Cullen is rather sarcastic while portraying his message which makes it confusing to understand his main motivate for writing the poem. Throughout the short poem, the harshness and cruelty of being born black becomes evident which passes his true message of the reality of racism in the society during the 1900s period. Cullen has used metaphor to address the theme of racism in his poem by elaborating the struggles, harshness and cruelty directed towards people’s color and this is analyzed below.

In the first twelve lines of the poem’s sonnet, Cullen does not depict the true nature of racism directly. He, however, uses a metaphor to illustrate his main point and intention which is evident in the last line of the poem’s sonnet. For instance, in line three, he marvels at God’s creation especially the reason he created the mole animal blind (Reading More Poems 696). It seems that he is frustrated by this nature of God for deciding to create other animals with eyes while others like the mole left blind. The mole in this case can be viewed as metaphoric in nature to mean the black people. A blind person is an individual who is not able to see but move around just like the mole. It means that they are limited in what they can or cannot do and this is a clear picture of the life of the blacks during the 1990s. As a result of increased racism in the nation, the blacks were limited in regards to job opportunities, ability to acquire property and at the same time to particular social regions. However, despite the suffering of the mole, Cullen still states that he believes that God is good, kind and means well for everyone which creates a confusing tone on the poem.

In the second part of the poem, the aspect of racism becomes clear as Cullen mentions that he is curious why God decided to make him a black poet. Though the poet has mentioned that he is marveled by this fact, it is a revelation that Cullen is frustrated by the fact that he is a black poet. During the 1990s, it was hard for black people to achieve any form of progress. They were not only oppressed, but also denied the chance to progress economically. It was next to impossible to find a black person on the limelight making significant change in the society. It is because of white supremacy which denied them a chance to be heard.

Cullen claims that he slightly understands the reason he is a black poet. Perhaps it is because no one would hear his thoughts on the issue of racism that he was trying to address in his poem. The blacks had to struggle to make it up in a world where there were numerous obstacles which Cullen describes as “a never-ending stair (Reading More Poems 696).”However, this difference makes him to begin to doubt the goodness of God and his kindness thus the reason for mentioning that he slightly understands the reason for being black. At the same time, blackness is used as a metaphor when Cullen was describing the punishment of the Sisyphus and Tantalus. He has mentioned that the Tantalus are tortured while the Sisyphus are doomed which is a clear image of the lives of the black people during the 1900s.

Majority of the blacks were slaves and underwent through extreme torture at the hands of the whites. The fact that they were black made them to be doomed in the society. It is one of the reasons he is marveled and curious about the goodness of God who made man (Cullen 1). However, it is important to mention that the experience of Cullen as a black person is based on the context that he is black poet. It means that his gift in poetry is not based on the fact that he is black. His talent as an individual is a mystery to him which brings him both joy and pain in equal measure. It is because the period when his talent as an individual became visible but the fact that he is black may limit his potential to succeed as an individual something that marvels him.

In conclusion, Cullen has used metaphor such as the moles, the tortured Tantalus and the doomed Sisyphus to address the theme of racism. Through the help of the metaphor, he has successfully managed to elaborate on the struggles that the black people had to face during the Renaissance period such as struggling to succeed, facing torture and cruelty from the white people. In overall, the poet decided to express his concerns regarding the goodness of God by using a questioning tone rather than angry or lamenting tone. It is evident that Cullen is marveled and in a wonder state which shows that he is surprised by the ways in which God works if he can allow some people to go through suffering because of their color.


Work Cited

Cullen, Countee. Yet Do I Marvel. Harper and Brothers, 1953. Retrieved from

Reading More Poems.