A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Monday, May 10, 2010

Poem of the Day: 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 over-wise,
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!
--Paul Laurence Dunbar

In his day, Dunbar was best known for dialect poems like "When Malindy Sings," which black poets were expected to produce. He wore the mask, but not happily. 

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