Study Guide

Yet Do I Marvel Suffering

By Countee Cullen

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No doubt about it, there's a little bit of suffering in "Yet Do I Marvel." We've got blindness, death, starvation, and endless physical labor. Okay, so a big bit of suffering. And all of this from a benevolent God, no less. Talk about sour grapes! Suffering is both a contradiction of God's goodness and a source of inspiration for the speaker to express his wonder about being a black poet in America.

Questions About Suffering

  1. How are examples of suffering used in this poem to contradict God's goodness? On the other hand, can the examples of apparent suffering be seen as examples of God's goodness? 
  2. How do the myths of Tantalus and Sisyphus help the speaker express his thoughts about the paradoxical nature of God? 
  3. How does the speaker use rhyme to pair words that emphasize suffering and the speaker's confusion about the nature of suffering in the poem?

Chew on This

The speaker uses examples of suffering in the world to work out his ideas about why God, at times, seems like a physical trainer from hell, putting people through death, hunger and meaningless labor. C'mon, feel the burn!

Although God is good, He has a funny way of showing it; but not every source of suffering is necessarily a bad thing, and the speaker turns suffering into a source of wonderment about his identity as a black poet in America.

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