He also refers to the never- ending punishments of two figures from Greek mythology: Tantalus, plagued by unquenchable hunger and thirst in the midst of unreachable food and drink; and Sisyphus, faced with the impossible task of rolling uphill a rock which continuously slips back to the starting-point before the task is finished. The poet talks about racism and his struggle with being a black poet but he doesn't seem resentful. Copyright © 2001 Cambridge University Press. It makes the reader slow down and have fun reading the poem. Rhyme All of the end rhymes are full and the rhyme scheme is ababcdcdeeffgg. 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. A second important theme for Cullen is his race.
Throughout his poem, Cullen uses examples of the imperfections of the world. The poet seems to be in a state of wonderment and surprise that God would allow people to suffer but he doesn't seem enraged. This apparent in the way the poet enjambed the lines of the poem. In the two quatrains the poet observes several examples of worldly imperfection. The human mind can only understand so much, it is incapable of grasping what lies within the mind of God, awesome thing that he is. The human brain could not comprehend.
He did not choose to be a poet any more than he chose to be Black. 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. The poet finally reveals himself as not only a poet, but a Black poet. After doing some research, the allusions to Greek mythology are hard for me to understand. On the one hand, the poet's black skin is included in the same category as the blindness of the mole or the punishments of Tantalus and Sisyphus. You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.
Like his black skin, Cullen's poetic talent is a mysterious source of both pain and joy. The mythological references center around Sisyphus and Tantalus, two great sinners of ancient Greece. Tantalus, son of Zeus and king of Phrygia, was punished in such a manner for crimes against both mortals and gods. Cullen also uses an allusion to Greek mythology through making references to the punishments of Tantalus and Sisyphus. In particular, the poet wonders why such an all-good Supreme Being could allow things like physical disabilities and death.
Toi Derricotte and Gerald Stern. I believe that this changes the meaning of the poem. Yet do I marvel at this curious thing: To make a poet black, and bid him sing! But if God is really kind, good and well-meaning, why He would even bother making a black man a poet in a world run by racist indifference to what any black man has to say about anything? The poet does not mention that he is Black until the final couplet. In fact, the opening appears to be a sincere affirmation and acceptance of the concept of God as good. Yet do I marvel at this curious thing: To make a poet black, and bid him sing! In the Judaeo-Christian tradition this divine element in humans is a source of hope and even a promise of life after death.
He has included variety ranging from the most mundane of creatures literally down-to-earth, one might add to the spiritual disposition of mankind. 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. Mark Doty reading Gwendolyn Brooks. He doesn't think God is bad but he wonders why he would make a world with so many hardships and cruelties. The end-rhyming couplets create a list of significant words which resonate throughout the poem.
The introduction of Sisyphus and Tantalus as major characters in this short poem serves two purposes. Yusef Komunyakaa reading Langston Hughes. The role of Tantalus and Sisyphus in the poem is also emphasized by their coupling in rhyme. A similar God bids Cullen to sing. It is not just about the African American experience and condition, but it is about the human condition in general.
While some poets find this source in nature or in the personal subconscious, Cullen attributes this power to the Supreme Being who dominates this poem. The speaker marvels at the fact that God has granted him, a black man, the gift of poetry has bid him sing! A reconsideration of the poem's structure and logic reveals that Cullen actually expresses the resolution of a paradox, rather than bemoaning his fate. Cullen offers a different, unique perspective in this poem. Although their human flesh is god-like, Tantalus and Sisyphus experience incomprehensible suffering and their condition reflects the ironic condition of every mortal, poised between God and death. The poem comprises three quatrains and one couplet that mark off four specific examples of apparent injustice.
In the end, all there is is wonder. So, the first twelve lines of the sonnet are essentially saying that, from the standpoint of the speaker, God is moral, despite the awful things that happen on earth; he doesn't need to explain away his actions because we couldn't comprehend him anyway. In this metaphor human flesh is compared to a looking glass which reflects the image of God. The first quatrain comprises two cases of seemingly cruel or undeserved punishment. Forms and Devices The language of this sonnet is highly polished. He wonders why certain things happen in the world. Of all the incomprehensible actions of God, the most amazing for the poet to understand is that God made him both a poet and Black.