Poem | We Wear the Mask

Paul Laurence Dunbar

While writing the Prep School Negro entry, I kept thinking of the Paul Laurence Dunbar poem, “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 overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O 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!

“We Wear the Mask” was first  published in 1895 in Dunbar’s Majors and Minors, page 21In 1896 it was  published in Lyrics of Lowly Life, page 167.

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One Response to Poem | We Wear the Mask

  1. Shauna says:

    One of my favorite PLD poems!

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