Countée Cullen American Literature Analysis
Orderliness is a hallmark of Cullen’s work. In “Yet Do I Marvel,” Cullen’s faith in the orderliness of God’s inexplicable creation is reinforced by the orderliness in the design of the poem, which is a sonnet. The first eight lines present apparent difficulties for human comprehension; the next four lines postulate that God’s ways, when seen from the mortal frame, are seemingly unjust, but if God’s ways could be seen from God’s perspective, then his justice would be clear. The final two lines give the problem poignancy, but faith in God is assured by the wonder of God’s creation. All lines are neatly and naturally rhymed (ababcdcdeeffgg), and the poem is executed in iambic pentameter. Thus Cullen’s poem pits the orderliness of writing against any questions about the orderliness of God’s creation, and the fact that Cullen, an African American poet, is singing eloquently, proves that “Yet Do I Marvel” is a poem of affirmation.
Beyond metrical patterns and rhyme schemes, Cullen in “Yet Do I Marvel” provides a range of literary references. He begins with common references, citing the mole and the human. Cullen elevates the discussion through classical allusions, citing the story of Tantalus, who stole nectar and ambrosia from the gods and was condemned to starve while food was just beyond his reach. In addition, Cullen alludes to the myth of Sisyphus, who sought to elude eternity, but faced eternal frustration in his...
(The entire section is 2105 words.)
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