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What is the theme of Countee Cullen's poem "Yet Do I Marvel"?

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lash | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 22, 2009 at 7:05 AM via web

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What is the theme of Countee Cullen's poem "Yet Do I Marvel"?

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted February 22, 2009 at 11:49 PM (Answer #1)

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A proclaimed poet of the Harlem Renaissance, Countee Cullen (1903-46) uses his poem, "Yet Do I Marvel," to send a very strong and passionate message. Using the sonnet form, Cullen discusses his effort to understand "the acts of God."  Cullen also uses a variety of tones- confusion, anger and sarcasm- to portray his message. Through the use of metaphor and allusion, Cullen allows the readers to put themselves in his shoes. Through his poetry, the reader is presented with the struggle and the underlying true message- the harshness and cruelty towards the African Americans- the reality of racism.

The first twelve lines of the sonnet portray the paradoxical nature of a "good and kind God." Cullen remarks that if God were really good and kind then why did he create the mole as a blind animal? Why should we all die?  Why do our best efforts often end in frustration and failure and unhapiness? Cullen answers these rhetorical questions by stating that God's ways are mysterious and can never be fully understood by ordinary human beings.

The final couplet, however, reveals his anger and frustration at the plight of talented and sensitive black poets like him who are suppressed and oppressed by the white majority, making him to doubt god's goodness and kindness.

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