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We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar



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. 


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