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
Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day, Few are my years, but my griefs are not few, Ever to youth should each day be a May-day, Warm wind and rose-breath and diamonded dew— Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day. Oh for the sunlight that shines on a May-day! Only the cloud hangeth over my life. Love that should bring me youth's happiest heyday Brings me but seasons of sorrow and strife; Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day. Sunshine or shadow, or gold day or gray day, Life must be lived as our destinies rule; Leisure or labor or work day or play day— Feasts for the famous and fun for the fool; Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day.