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
This is the debt I pay Just for one riotous day, Years of regret and grief, Sorrow without relief. Pay it I will to the end— Until the grave, my friend, Gives me a true release— Gives me the clasp of peace. Slight was the thing I bought, Small was the debt I thought, Poor was the loan at best— God! but the interest!