What figures of speech are used in the poem "Yet do I Marvel?"

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A figure of speech is a type of language that is not literal.  In this case, the poem takes on many meanings.  It is common to use figurative language like metaphors in a sonnet.  This beautiful sonnet uses metaphors, personification, and allusion.

The strongest metaphor is that God is a person.    God is personified, seen as stooping and having an “awful brain.”  There is also an allusion to Sisyphus, a figure from Greek mythology.  Humans are compared to Sisyphus, and their life is compared to “struggle up a never-ending stair.” 

Cullen uses metaphor when describing how he tries to comprehend the word of God.

Inscrutable His ways are, and immune   

To catechism by a mind too strewn   

With petty cares to slightly understand

The speaker describes his mind as a place and ideas as things that can literally be strewn around.

Another metaphor is in the last line.

Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:   

To make a poet black, and bid him sing!

In this case, writing a poem is compared to singing.  The poem and the song are both an expression of beauty. 




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