Analyze a single word in "Yet I Do Marvel" which is crucial to the poem's effect and theme.

The single word "bid" is crucial to the poem's total effect and theme (line 14). This word implies that the Black speaker/poet does what he feels he is called to do by God, that God has made him both Black and a poet for some good reason that human beings are simply too limited to understand. If White readers accept this version of a loving and purposeful God, then they must also accept the God-given value of this man's voice.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In this poem, the speaker seems to be a Black man who is pondering the mysteries of God's creation and his own creation specifically. He claims not to doubt that "God is good, well-meaning, kind," and he feels that God would absolutely be able to explain why, for example, the mole is blind or why humans are mortal. God would also be able to explain why Tantalus and Sisyphus, figures who endure eternal and horrible punishment in Greek mythology, must submit to their respective "torture[s]." Although we humans find God's motivations and logic to be "inscrutable," it is the fault of our flawed minds which are "too strewn / With petty cares" to begin to understand them and not the fault of God. The speaker cannot help but wonder, however, why God would "make a poet Black, and bid him sing!" It seems cruel, or at least confusing perhaps, to give a person Black skin—skin that will compel White others to devalue and degrade and ignore him—and then call on this man to be a poet.

The word "bid" seems especially ripe for an analysis because it implies that the speaker only does what God requires of him. He continues to believe that God's motives are loving and, on some level, make perfect sense, but as our sense is imperfect, he cannot discern God's logic. The word "bid" implies intentionally and purposefulness, and it suggests that God created this person in this way for some very good reason, as both a Black person and one with a calling to speak out, to create, to "sing" for others. If White readers accept this version of God—as loving and purposeful—then mustn't they accept this Black poet's voice as an instrument of God? This is what is suggested by the word "bid."

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial