Yet do I Marvel
This poem is fourteen lines long, and it is a sonnet. Cullen uses the images of Tantalus and Sisyphus. Tantalus was welcomed by Zeus to the Greek Gods' table from which he stole ambrosia and nectar. He took this back to his people, and this revealed the secrets of the gods. He was sent to Tartarus in the underworld, which was reserved for the punishment of evildoers. Sisyphus was a king found in Roman mythology. He was punished for eternity to push a bolder up a hill and watch it roll back down again. Both of these characters experienced great struggle in their personal lives, just as Countee Cullen must have. Being a black poet during the civil rights movement could not have been easy, just as pushing a bolder or living in hell must not have been easy.
In Heritage, Cullen takes us back to his ancestors. He talkes about Africa and what it means to him. He uses vivid imagery of cats crouching in the river reeds, and bodies sleek and wet dripping of mingled rain and sweat. Although many people believe that people in olden times were not civilized, Cullen diagrees. He says that you and I are civlized, speaking of modern day and those in previous day Africa.