The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Like all true sonnets, “Yet Do I Marvel” is a fourteen-line poem written in iambic pentameter. Its seven rhymes are arranged in two quatrains, abab and cdcd, and one sestet, eeffgg. The two quatrains not only use a similar metrical pattern but also form a single grammatical unit, in which the poet makes several observations and poses his problem. In the sestet, the poet draws a general conclusion from these observations. The final couplet of the poem offers a dramatic, personal turn, in which the poet transforms this general observation into a statement about his own position in the world. The title, taken from the thirteenth line of the poem, reflects the theme of wonder and amazement around which the poem moves.

The poem is a first-person monologue in which a black poet, indistinguishable from Countée Cullen, voices doubt and confusion about the world, about the relationship between God and man, and about this particular poet’s place in the world. No audience is addressed directly.

The poet begins by professing his belief in a God who is all-good, good-intentioned and almighty. He also affirms that God has reasons for everything that happens in the world, even if these reasons are often difficult for humans to understand. In particular, the poet wonders why such an all-good Supreme Being could allow things like physical disabilities and death.

In the two quatrains, the poet observes several...

(The entire section is 463 words.)