Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


We Wear the Mask

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!

Credit


This poem is in the public domain.

Author


Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar, born in 1872 and the author of numerous collections of poetry and prose, was one of the first African American poets to gain national recognition.

Date Published: 1896-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/we-wear-mask