Paul Laurence Dunbar

(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

We Wear The Mask - Poem 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!

Form: Rondeau


Comments about We Wear The Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar

  • (8/30/2019 9:16:00 PM)

    This poem shows great wisdom and insight on many levels especially given the time period that it was written. I believe Mr Dunbar's parents were former slaves so it was vital to put on a happy face to survive. Fast forward to now, the words become even more relevant - we all have a mask of one kind or another. It's an amazing poem. (Report)Reply

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  • (4/9/2019 8:04:00 AM)

    This poem became one of my favorite poems early in my adult life and still remains a favorite🌹 (Report)Reply

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  • (3/18/2019 6:50:00 PM)

    this poems may be one of the worst pieces of writing I have ever read (Report)Reply

    (4/11/2019 10:09:00 AM)

    then you dont know the true meaning of it because it is a very well written poem

    4 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Arun Maji (12/10/2018 6:47:00 AM)

    beautiful poem- deep and succinct. philosophical (Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (9/20/2018 1:34:00 PM)

    This weak as (Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • (9/18/2018 9:02:00 AM)

    this is a real poem telling the true self (Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • (7/31/2018 10:28:00 AM)

    It is so true n you have put it so beautifully (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Susan Williams (6/21/2018 6:27:00 PM)

    A great poem on many levels- the rhyme, the rhythm, the words used, the mounting tension, the emotion, the mask and how steeped with history it is- human beings have worn it since Adam and Eve all the way to our age and we wear it for much the same reason. This poem is so worth pondering on a midnight dreary (Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Britte Ninad (6/3/2018 1:46:00 AM)

    withing mask we show our good deeds but the devilish sign long live as like slough even after death which suffers the next generations! ! (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (5/29/2018 10:11:00 AM)

    The poem is about the manner in which African Americans have been forced to endure and escape the treatment dealt to them by whites every day for centuries. The written words are sublime: the reading, not so much. (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (5/8/2018 3:26:00 PM)

    I hate Marrisa a lot she has no friends (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • (4/29/2018 2:39:00 PM)

    BIG MOOD (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (4/24/2018 9:24:00 PM)

    Truths revealed, spoken from the heart of a tortured soul (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (4/22/2018 10:10:00 PM)

    Very interested poem by sarodiya I love it (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • (4/22/2018 10:09:00 PM)

    Very interested poem by sarodiya I love it (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (2/27/2018 8:28:00 PM)

    I hate this poem cuz I hate it (Report)Reply

    7 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
  • Ludolf Dauphin (2/16/2018 9:15:00 PM)

    One of the first poem of Mr. Dunbar that i have read and complete love it. The cruelty they have gone through. (Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • (2/12/2018 8:28:00 AM)

    My class and I am applying this poem to Lord of the Flies and it works well on touching down on the sensitive topic of insanity which isn't so easily applied to most stories. All and all quite interesting. (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
  • Kamiel Choi (10/4/2017 2:09:00 AM)

    The poem suffers from force rhyme and doesn't really has the grandure expected from such an acclaimed poet. On masks, Pessoa's work is vastly better! (Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    15 person did not like.
  • Dallas Mathis (9/6/2017 4:16:00 PM)

    Although we can read this as a reference to all of us, I think it is about the plight of African-Americans in America. (Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    11 person did not like.
Read all 98 comments »




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Read poems about / on: smile, dream, world



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003



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