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
Temples he built and palaces of air, And, with the artist’s parent-pride aglow, His fancy saw his vague ideals grow Into creations marvelously fair; He set his foot upon Fame’s nether stair. But ah, his dream,—it had entranced him so He could not move. He could no farther go; But paused in joy that he was even there! He did not wake until one day there gleamed Thro’ his dark consciousness a light that racked His being till he rose, alert to act. But lo! What he had dreamed, the while he dreamed, Another, wedding action unto thought, Into the living, pulsing world had brought.