Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)|
We Wear the Mask
WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
The above poem appeared in Dunbar's first professionally
published volume, Lyrics of Lowly Life, in 1896 by Dodd, Mead,
and Company. It also appeared in the volume Majors
and Minors from the previous year.
It can be found, for
Dunbar, Paul Laurence. The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Joanne M. Braxton, ed.
Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993.
Abcarian, Richard, and Marvin Klotz, eds. Literature: The Human Experience (Shorter Fourth Edition with Essays).
New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.