We Wear the Mask
wear the mask that grins and lies,
hides our cheeks and shades our eyes—
debt we pay to human guile;
torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
mouth with myriad subtleties.
should the world be over-wise,
counting all our tears and sighs?
let them only see us, while
wear the mask.
smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
thee from tortured souls arise.
sing, but oh the clay is vile
our feet, and long the mile;
let the world dream otherwise,
wear the mask!
Paul Laurence Dunbar