Episode 28

Countee Cullen, Yet Do I Marvel


September 29th, 2021

24 mins 48 secs

Season 3

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About this Episode

Countee Cullen was a major voice of the Harlem Renaissance. Joined by the renowned cultural critic Gerald Early, we here examine together story of Countee Cullen and the astounding sonnet that opens his main collection of poetry, My Soul's High Song.

For more on Countee Cullen, see the Poetry Foundation.

Here is the text of the sonnet:

Yet Do I Marvel
Countee Cullen

I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind,
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,

Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die,
Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus
Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare

If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
To struggle up a never-ending stair.

Inscrutable His ways are, and immune

To catechism by a mind too strewn

With petty cares to slightly understand

What awful brain compels His awful hand.

Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:

To make a poet black, and bid him sing!

For the main collection of Countee Cullen's poetry, edited by Gerald Early, see My Soul's High Song.

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