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Yet Do I Marvel

Yet Do I Marvel

by Countee Cullen

Religion Theme

Although there aren't any churches, sacrifices, or long homilies, religious references play a major role in "Yet Do I Marvel." The speaker opens the poem by declaring that God is good. In fact, the whole poem revolves around the apparent contradiction of God's goodness juxtaposed with not so great things in life. So yeah, life can be a bummer, but God won't explain his mysterious ways to us small-minded people, so it's probably no use dwelling on it. However, the idea of God is what allows the speaker to filter his ideas about race and humanity into a fourteen-line poem, which is nothing short of inspirational.

Questions About Religion

  1. Why does the speaker describe God has "awful" in line 12? In what sense of the word is he using it?
  2. Are the last two lines of the poem examples of God's "awful mind" or do they contradict the previous examples of suffering and misfortune in the poem? 
  3. Why does the speaker start off by stating that God is good rather than starting off with his list of examples of unfortunate situations in life, like the mole, death, and the Greek references? What effect does it have on the audience and the poem if the speaker starts off on a positive note rather than a negative one? 
  4. Does the speaker like God or does he think God has given him an unfortunate deal in life?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although God is Mister-Know-It-All in "Yet Do I Marvel", the speaker uses God's apparent paradoxical nature as a way to express his joy and wonder about being a black poet.

In "Yet Do I Marvel" God is a source of confusion and contradiction, and those big question marks in life are what lead the speaker to marveling at his identity as a black poet.

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