The Right Mask Poem by Brian Patten

The Right Mask

Rating: 3.6

One night a poem came up to a poet
From now on, it said, you must wear a mask.
What kind of mask? asked the poet.
A rose mask, said the poem.
I've used it already, said the poet,
I've exhausted it.
Then wear the mask that's made out of
a nightingale's song, use that mask.
Oh, it's an old mask, said the poet,
it's all used up.
Nonsense, said the poem, it's the perfect mask,
still, try on the god mask,
now that mask illuminates heaven.
It's a tight mask, said the poet,
and the stars crawl about in it like ants.
Then try on the troubador's mask, or the singer's mask,
try on all the popular masks.
I have, said the poet, but they fit so easily.

The poem was getting impatient,
it stamped its feet like a child,
it screamed. Then try on your own face,
try the one mask that terrifies,
the mask only you could possibly use,
the mask only you could wear out.

The poet tore at his face til it bled,
this mask? he yelled, this mask?
Yes, said the poem, yes.

But the poet was tired of masks,
he had lived too long with them,
he snatched at the poem and stuck it in his face.
Its screams were muffled, it wept, it tried to be lyrical,
it wriggled into his eyes and mouth.

Next day his friends were afraid of him,
he looked so distorted.
Now it's the right mask, said the poem, the right mask.
It clung to him lovingly and never let go again.

Raynette Eitel 22 May 2005

This strange poem sounds more like a myth; yet it tugs at me until I look in the mirror to find which mask I am reading. I chose this because the name attracted my attention. I wrote about masks in my poem, 'The Widow.' And I do believe we all have different masks, depending on who we see. Thanks for this interesting piece. Raynette

3 4 Reply
Max D. Hornbogen 26 October 2015

really good, a good story.

1 4 Reply
Kate Kennett 06 April 2020

This version of Brian Patten's poem differs from the original in multiple ways. This significantly changes the sense and meaning of it. Very poor copy

0 1 Reply
markeveis 14 October 2020

The main idea of the story is that this poet trying to find new ideas for himself and is fustraighted i think this because it states that he crshed the papper up and shoulved it in his own face

0 0 Reply
Aisha williams 25 August 2020

no matter what kind of mask it was, the person didn't want to wear it until he got so frustrated with trying on mask, and then finally he tried on the perfect mask.

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sydney dellinger 22 August 2020

The mask is speaical and it causes things to happen

0 0 Reply
ramsha 17 August 2020

what is meant by not even a ghost of a wing

1 1 Reply
Emaan sajjad 25 June 2020

its really good story

0 0 Reply
Brian Patten

Brian Patten

Liverpool / England
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