How does withholding the speakers race until the final line affect the poem? What if he was not black but was sympathetic to black poets?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One of Cullen's strength is his ability to articulate a condition of pain and suffering which seems to transcend race, yet remind the reader of its pervasive reality.  The withholding of race until the last line accomplishes a couple of elements.  One such element is to hearken back to a condition of pain and suffering that is as old as Classical times.  The invocation of Tantalus and Sisyphus, who seem to be trapped in situations that represent a brutal combination of inevitability and agony, brings to light the idea that such a condition has been a component of human existence as long as hallowed antiquity.  In doing this, Cullen humanizes and universalizes the painful condition that recognizes individuals as...

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