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
Ships That Pass in the Night
Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing; I look far out into the pregnant night, Where I can hear a solemn booming gun And catch the gleaming of a random light, That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing. My tearful eyes my soul's deep hurt are glassing; For I would hail and check that ship of ships. I stretch my hands imploring, cry aloud, My voice falls dead a foot from mine own lips, And but its ghost doth reach that vessel, passing, passing. O Earth, O Sky, O Ocean, both surpassing, O heart of mine, O soul that dreads the dark! Is there no hope for me? Is there no way That I may sight and check that speeding bark Which out of sight and sound is passing, passing?