“We Wear the Mask” (1895)
by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
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.
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!
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.