Study Guide

Countée Cullen

by Countée Porter

Countée Cullen Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Countée Cullen was an accomplished artist whose work in standard forms modeled by famous literary artists, such as John Keats, earned him a bright reputation at an early age. He published in distinguished literary magazines, demonstrating an ability to function in both black and white literary circles and drawing praise from critics across the racial spectrum. His distinguished academic career led to sustained literary production in various forms, but Color, his first volume of poems, brings together most of his memorable works, including “Yet Do I Marvel,” “Heritage,” and “To John Keats, Poet. At Spring Time.”

Cullen retains an important place in literary history as part of the Harlem Renaissance, but some critics lament that Cullen relied too heavily on white literary predecessors and did not go far enough in establishing African American idiom and culture in his works.