In his poetry, Cullen used irony to underline his argument about fate. He expresses confidence in God, which he later questions. It's interesting because he eventually thinks God is all-powerful. Each of his inquiries is a comparison of the time period's mistreatment of African Americans. So, ironically, it's the treatment of one of God's children that makes him wonder if he really believes in him.
The first stanza ends with an exclamation point, so it's clear that these are both bold statements that contradict each other. The second stanza begins with a question mark, so it's possible that even though he knows they're true, Cullen isn't sure whether or not to trust in God anymore.
Countee Cullen has a number of challenges in reconciling his African lineage with his American identity. The first is isolation and separation. "What is Africa to me?" questions the poem's first sentence. "I cannot say" answers the second. Both sentences are followed by exclamation points, indicating that these are not normal speech but rather bursts of feeling that need to be expressed.
Second, there is the issue of identity. Who counts as black or white? What does it mean to be colored both white and black at the same time? These are questions that many people have asked themselves over time, and which still cause problems today.
Third, there is the problem of power. White people often feel entitled to rule over black people, and this was especially true in America before 1965. Black people had no choice but to obey their white masters. This situation changed with the civil rights movement, when blacks began to fight for their rights with non-violent means where possible and violent if needed. The struggle continues today in different ways; for example, many black Americans still can't vote because of past slavery and segregation. But the fact that they can vote at all is important because it shows that the government does not consider them third class citizens.
Finally, there is the problem of death. Countee Cullen faces this issue through representation.
Cullen emphasizes sadness as a regular component of existence in the poem. "Your anguish and mine must interweave like sea and river, be fused and mingle, various but single, forever and forever," says one line of the poem (Cullen). It is clear from this statement that the speaker is describing identification. The two people speaking are one and the same; therefore, their experiences are similar because they have both lost someone loved.
Countee Cullen was born on August 6, 1877, in New York City. His father was a wealthy shipping merchant who died when Countee was only nine years old. This left his mother to raise him alone. She worked long hours in order to provide her son with the best education possible. He attended Harvard University for two years before dropping out to work with the Boston Daily Globe as a cub reporter.
While working at the newspaper, Countee met and fell in love with Frances Watkins. They were married on February 21, 1902. However, only three months later, the couple's first child, a daughter named Marguerite Ann, died. This caused Countee to quit his job and move to Georgia so he could care for his grieving wife and daughter. Here he started his own newspaper column called "Today and Tomorrow", which discussed current events from a philosophical perspective.
In 1905, Cullen published his first collection of poems titled Gather Together.