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We Wear the Mask

Paul Laurence Dunbar 1872 (Dayton) – 1906



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!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

30 sec read
346

Quick analysis:

Scheme aabbx aabC aabbaC
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 502
Words 101
Stanzas 3
Stanza Lengths 5, 4, 6

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar was a seminal American poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries Dunbar gained national recognition for his 1896 Lyrics of a Lowly Life one poem in the collection being Ode to Ethiopia more…

All Paul Laurence Dunbar poems | Paul Laurence Dunbar Books

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1 Comment
  • adamaroachford
    This is my favourite poem so far. I will one day write a poem with a similar concept
    LikeReplyReport5 months ago

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"We Wear the Mask" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 9 Feb. 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/28997/we-wear-the-mask>.

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