God and the suffering He seems to allow is the paradoxical question posed since the start of religion. Philosophy and literature alike have long struggled with the issue, and poet Countee Cullen takes yet another crack at it in the poem “Yet Do I Marvel”. Cullen uses rhyme, classical allusion, and Shakespearean sonnet form in “Yet Do I Marvel” to exhibit God’s paradoxical nature and purpose the true marvel is in the miracles of life.
Cullen opens the piece suggesting paradoxes which question the nature of God. Cullen’s title, “Yet Do I Marvel,” itself seems to be a question. The “Yet” makes it seem that in spite of there being this wonder, something isn’t quite right. The title refers to an image of awe which gets question; giving a feeling of uncertainty to the reader before the poem ever begins. This hesitation is illuminated by the idea of “well meaning” (ll. 1). The connotation of well-meaning is wanting to do well, but it doesn’t always work out, and sometimes even backfires. This idea paired with God gives the impression of a paradox. Supposing He is all good but something else, outside of the scope of power or inward temptation, destroys good intentions. Furthermore, He is kind, yet He did not “stoop to quibble” (ll. 2). Indicating that He could answer humankind’s questions of life but does not, and “quibble” (ll. 2) indicates that even if He did come down to the people He would evade the questions asked of Him. All this points right from the start Cullen’s concern with God.
Through rhyme scheme the poem connects opposing adjectives such as “kind” and “blind” or “immune” and “strewn”, creating images which emphasize a paradoxical nature of God. God is “kind” (ll. 1) yet His kindness is ...
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...he greatest. It is unfair to this passion, even cruel, yet at this same time it results in the beautiful poetry. For of all the miraculous things God could do this is the choice He makes. The speaker ends God’s miraculous and paradoxical choice with end stop, an exclamation mark, ending the entire piece in surprise and asserting that this is what God wants and no matter how much it doesn’t appear to make sense, such things exist in the world.
The poem makes the speaker and even reader question the form and rhythm of God, for there are so many paradoxes. Yet in this assertion of evil it provides an even greater purpose for how there is kindness and belief in the seeming miracles. For the speaker it is “to make a poet black” (ll.14), although today his ‘miracle’ is normal, there are many new strange beauties which are truly the greatest thing for one to marvel before.
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