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Cullen’s and Milton’s Poems Review


The Afro American poets Countee Cullen and John Milton are closely connected with the so-called Renaissance of the African literature. The best known poem “yet, do I marvel” by Cullen is often been misinterpreted and consequently, it was regarded as just one more lament of a defeated soul as a man can not solve a dilemma of being a poet and black at the same time. The same might be said about Milton’s famous sonnet “On his blindness” Nevertheless, the poems propose a resolution of paradox rather than a moan of the soul. Cullen organized the poem in three quatrains and one couplet. They seemingly mark off four specific examples of apparent injustice, while the Milton’s poem is concerned with the question whether he would be able to enter Heavens, having lost his sight and thus, be not able to use the talent, given to him.

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The first quatrain of “Yet, I do marvel” makes two cases of seemingly cruel or undeserved punishment. When still, they are thought over, the examples seem neither unjust nor paradoxical anymore. Accordingly with the theology put in a poem, God made man in his image in rather spiritual than a physical sense. So, God designed man for survival beyond the grave. Rather than victims of “brute caprice,” human beings are the recipients of natural and even supernatural justice respectively.

The two allusions, referred to the Greek mythology in the second quatrain, are used for further understanding of the context of poem. Nevertheless, so few readers have done so does not alter the implications of his use of these mythological subtexts. First, the poet depicts Tantalus. He is constantly starving while food is just beyond his grasp. Tantalus seems to be a symmetric example of the punishment fitting the offense, and no puzzle at all. The same is true of Cullen’s reference to the Sisyphus myth in lines 8 and 9.

The sequence and the nature of the given examples brings it home to the reader that thy are designed as preliminary and analogous with his the paradox. Carefully chosen by poet examples, lead the reader to the recognition of the last point used in the final couplet, where the author uses connotation of the term “sing.” It is known that many Afro American poets, writing in 1925 used the term to indicate the great suffering of the race of black people as the songs they used comprised either notes of melancholy or rage considering their race. Still, as the term “sing” stands for a vast denotation, it is rather indicated that the song is a marked identity of the race of black people. Thus, emphasizing not the bad fortune of black people, but rather the identity and the uniqueness of the people.

While the poem “On his blindness” touches upon the question of understanding the acts of God. The author uses many devices within the poem and sarcasm to deliver his message to the reader. Finally, he concludes that he is still able to serve God even though he has lost the ability to use his talent, as the last line of the poem puts it “they also serve who only stand and wait”. The understanding of the need to resign himself to the fate and the impossibility to change something makes the poet feel safe for his soul.


Finally, it might be inferred, that the poet rather than evidence of his failure in specific and of his race in general, uses the examples, allusions in his poem of the achievement of both.

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"Cullen’s and Milton’s Poems Review." StudyCorgi, 19 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Cullen’s and Milton’s Poems Review." October 19, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Cullen’s and Milton’s Poems Review." October 19, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Cullen’s and Milton’s Poems Review." October 19, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Cullen’s and Milton’s Poems Review'. 19 October.

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