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 oh 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!
Paul Laurence Dunbar - 1872-1906
Christmas in the Heart
The snow lies deep upon the ground, And winter's brightness all around Decks bravely out the forest sere, With jewels of the brave old year. The coasting crowd upon the hill With some new spirit seems to thrill; And all the temple bells achime. Ring out the glee of Christmas time. In happy homes the brown oak-bough Vies with the red-gemmed holly now; And here and there, like pearls, there show The berries of the mistletoe. A sprig upon the chandelier Says to the maidens, "Come not here!" Even the pauper of the earth Some kindly gift has cheered to mirth! Within his chamber, dim and cold, There sits a grasping miser old. He has no thought save one of gain,— To grind and gather and grasp and drain. A peal of bells, a merry shout Assail his ear: he gazes out Upon a world to him all gray, And snarls, "Why, this is Christmas Day!" No, man of ice,—for shame, for shame! For "Christmas Day" is no mere name. No, not for you this ringing cheer, This festal season of the year. And not for you the chime of bells From holy temple rolls and swells. In day and deed he has no part— Who holds not Christmas in his heart!