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
Oh, summer has clothed the earth In a cloak from the loom of the sun! And a mantle, too, of the skies' soft blue, And a belt where the rivers run. And now for the kiss of the wind, And the touch of the air's soft hands, With the rest from strife and the heat of life, With the freedom of lakes and lands. I envy the farmer's boy Who sings as he follows the plow; While the shining green of the young blades lean To the breezes that cool his brow. He sings to the dewy morn, No thought of another's ear; But the song he sings is a chant for kings And the whole wide world to hear. He sings of the joys of life, Of the pleasures of work and rest, From an o'erfull heart, without aim or art; 'T is a song of the merriest. O ye who toil in the town, And ye who moil in the mart, Hear the artless song, and your faith made strong Shall renew your joy of heart. Oh, poor were the worth of the world If never a song were heard,— If the sting of grief had no relief, And never a heart were stirred. So, long as the streams run down, And as long as the robins trill, Let us taunt old Care with a merry air, And sing in the face of ill.