We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar

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!

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Other poems by 'Paul Laurence Dunbar'

Sympathy

Life's Tragedy

Encouragement

A Choice

A Negro Love Song

A Golden Day

Little Brown Baby

Confirmation

Morning

Ships that Pass in the Night