“Yet Do I Marvel” Brian Conrad
Diction • The author chooses words that appeal to Christianity and mythology to show God’s impact on all aspects of thought and life. • God is referred to as “He” and is capitalized, showing that the author is not speaking of a mythological god. • “Tantalus” and “Sisyphus” reference stories in Greek mythology.
Imagery • The author uses visual imagery to show God’s cruelty despite the fact that the author has no doubt that “God is good.” • Mythological scenes of Tantalus being “baited by the fickle fruit” and Sisyphus having to “struggle up a never-ending stair” are included to demonstrate the author marveling about God’s “ways.” • A final scene describes the poet’s true feelings in which God makes “a poet black” and “bid him sing,” which refers to the author.
Details • The line, “to make a poet black, and bid him sing,” is included to show the author’s inner sadness. • The author questions why God is so cruel and forces the poet to “sing,” even though the poet is sad or “black.” • The word “black” could also relate to the author’s race because Countee Cullen is a black poet.
Language • The language of the poem relies heavily on allusion to mythology and Christianity. • “Tantalus,” “Sisyphus,” “God,” “Him” • The allusions give historical examples of how God’s actions could be viewed as cruel, but the poet keeps face by stating “God is good.”
Structure • The author begins the poem by stating that he does not doubt God’s will to state his beliefs and to not offend the reader with his next statements. • The author then provides evidence of God’s cruelty through allusions to Tantalus and Sisyphus. • The author ends the poem with a statement of curiosity of why God would put people through these difficult situations.