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(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

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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!

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003


Read poems about / on: smile, dream, world

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Comments about this poem (A Drowsy Day by Paul Laurence Dunbar )

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  • Rouren Torres (1/3/2014 10:09:00 PM)

    Yes. Why let the world see me broken and down, when I could just fake a smile?

    7 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Phoenix Green (9/27/2013 7:53:00 PM)

    This has always been my favorite poem. It's about hiding your unhappiness, pain and sorrow, and acting as if everything were normal, happy, wonderful. Pretending to be one way when your really the other. A facade. I think it's truly beautiful.

  • Russ Newsom (7/7/2013 8:42:00 AM)

    Way ahead of his time.

  • Ernest Makuakua (5/9/2013 2:17:00 AM)

    nice piece youve written there love it more

  • Shahzia Batool (5/8/2013 8:56:00 PM)

    A bold confession....yes, we wear a mask...

  • Bobby Wynn (5/8/2013 2:57:00 PM)

    Very revealing for a mask thing but adequate to explain the mindset.

  • Tinara Cook (5/8/2013 11:59:00 AM)

    I made a poem just like this

  • Thomas Yarborough (5/8/2013 10:47:00 AM)

    Reminds me of Charles Bukowski's Dinosauris, We but not quite as cynical as his ;) Rated it 10. Good job.

  • Meshack Bankole (5/8/2013 7:16:00 AM)

    Kudos laurence! We wear the mask of selfishness, ego and self-deception. Yet Christ‘s death - our shame and sorrow bear without wearing a mask of shame and self-pity.
    The mask - all must set ablaze once and for all.

  • Olaniyan David (5/8/2013 3:23:00 AM)

    it's a poem of truth. That tells or shows how guilty we are, yet proven innocent with all the hidden things. We all have the task to avert this!

Read all 37 comments »

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