Poem: We Wear the Mask Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar
I think this poem can be abstract or straightforward because it can have a hidden meaning about hiding or have a concrete meaning about something or somewhere that a mask is needed like a masquerade or occasion. But, I predict this poem is abstract. Paraphrase
We wear the mask that grins and lies, they wear a mask that smiles and lies It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— you can’t see their cheeks or eyes This debt we pay to human guile they have to pay because of deceitfulness With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, they smile even with their hearts shredded And mouth with myriad subtleties. subliminal messages come from the mouth
Why should the world be over-wise, why should the world know everything In counting all our tears and sighs? they count every time someone cries or sighs Nay, let them only see us, while no, they should only be seen while they wear We wear the mask. the mask
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries they smile, but God, when people pray or cry To thee from tortured souls arise. to him it comes from pain We, sing but oh the clay is vile they sing but the clay under their feet is evil Beneath our feet, and long the mile; and the mile to walk is long But let the world dream otherwise, let the world overlook it We wear the mask! they wear the mask
In the first line “”the mask that grins and lies” is personified because masks can’t lie because it’s an inanimate object.
The “mask” they refer to in this poem is a metaphor...