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Interpretation of Poem “Yet Do I Marvel” - Countee Cullen

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Poetry is often meant to be smooth, flowing, pleasing to the ear and the mind. To achieve this effect, many poets use different poetic techniques to help convey the meanings of their poetry. In the sonnet, 'Yet Do I Marvel' written by Countee Cullen, many different features of poetry is used

Cullen tries to convey in his sonnet and the techniques of metaphors, both religious and non-religious, allusions to Greek mythology, different rhyme schemes and repetition that he uses.

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God could explain if he wanted to the challenging life of the blind mole, the reason why our flesh is corruptible, the struggles of mythological characters - life can be hard - but to expect explanation from God is futile. The human brain could not comprehend. For all God's omnipotence, the speaker is still struck by the fact that God made him a poet, and a black one at that. So in the end, this sonnet is something of a celebration of the possible in life.Yet Do I Marvel is a sonnet that focuses on the essential paradox of a good God's divinely created life on earth and the puzzling challenges that entails. It starts with a positive premise, gives examples that might question, and concludes with a little bit of wonder. The first line introduces the reader to a speaker who is faithful to his God and does not question his goodness and kindness

Should there be a need for explanation from God concerning the struggles life faces on earth, then this would happen.

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The long work is an assemblage of fragments, the short work a carefully realized fragment. Compared with earlier writing, modernist literature is notable for what it omits – the explanations, interpretations, connections, summaries, and distancing that provide continuity, perspective and security in traditional literature. (Baym, 1078). This description can be applied almost exactly to Cane – which is a series of impressionistic fragments, part prose, part poetry; part omniscient narrator, part first person narrative

As a work of literature it deliberately breaks boundaries – it is not a conventional novel, and it is not a collection of short stories. This breaking of boundaries is important because Toomer is reacting to centuries of miscegenation (itself a breaking of boundaries): indeed, Lamothe (56) calls slavery and the segregated society of the South “an ideology of enforced fragmentation and difference.” Toomer responds to this enforced fragmentation with his own fictive fragmentation in Cane: his form is a perfect mirror for the experiences of his characters.

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Ultimately, poets are supposed to write about what unites everyone, but the black poet also feels pressure to address the specificity of being black. Among all the cruel and hard-to-explain things God has done, the speaker implies, this is by far the cruelest and most inexplicable. In this way, though the poem began by affirming the speaker’s faith in God’s goodness, it ends by ironically casting doubt on it.

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Baker, Houston A. Afro-American Poets: Revisions of the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Aesthetic. 1996. University of Wisconsin Press. Print.

Baym, Nina (Ed.). The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Volume D. Sixth edition. 2003. New York: W W Norton. Print.

Lamothe, Daphne. ‘Cane: Jean Toomer’s Gothic Black Modernism.’ 54 – 71 in Anolik, Ruth Ruth Bienstock & Howard, Douglas L. The Gothic Other: Racial and Social Constructions in the Literary Imagination. 2004. New York: McFarland. Print.

Miller, R. Baxter. The Art and Imagination of Langston Hughes. 2006. University Press of Kentucky. Print.

Toomer, Jean. Cane. 1975. New York: Liverwright. Print.

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