We Wear the Mask

Original Text: 
The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1913), Facsimile in The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, ed. Joanne M. Braxton (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1993), p. 71. PS 1556 AI 1993 Robarts Library.
1We wear the mask that grins and lies,
2It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
3This debt we pay to human guile;
4With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
5And mouth with myriad subtleties.
6Why should the world be overwise,
7In counting all our tears and sighs?
8Nay, let them only see us, while
9We wear the mask.
10We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
11To thee from tortured souls arise.
12We sing, but oh the clay is vile
13Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
14But let the world dream otherwise,
15We wear the mask!
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.