01 October 2012

I wear the mask that grins and lies

Even though I am busy, I have decided to put myself back into the blogging every day mode.  I made it all the way into the last part of August doing so and have dropped off since then only posting a few times a week.

To help me, I have signed up for NaBloPoMo October.  The theme for the month is masks and today's prompt was, "When you saw the word mask, was your first interpretation protection, covering up, persona, or performance?"

When I hear the word mask I always think of the Paul Laurence Dunbar poem, "We Wear the mask".

The poem was published in the late 1800s by him (an African American - or Negro as I think we were called at the time).  It is all about the struggles of people and how they tend to hide them from others.  I first read it back in high school and have loved it and really felt it since then at various points in my life and during different situations.

We Wear the MaskWe 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!
I love it!

That is what I do on so many occasions - hide what is really going on and put on a happy, or just a straight face that others can't read.

All this to say that my first impression after reading the theme for the month of October with BlogHer was hiding imperfections, protecting the image (I think) I have in the eyes of others, and making sure I always seem in control of situations.


  1. When I was teaching the American Literature book had the Dunbar poem. Most students had a hard time understanding what it meant.

    However, they only used the FIRST stanza. I had no idea there was more!

    1. It would be harder to understand with just the first stanza. Glad I could share the rest with you!

  2. Loved this and the poem. I, too, wear a mak often maybe so people can't get to know me ight away? I've missed your daily posts so I'm excited to hear you're back at it.

    1. I think I am often hoping people get to know the me that I want them to know and not the real me.

      Thanks for always reading... hopefully I can keep up a month straight of writing again.

  3. Wow. I am so glad you shared the poem with us. I love it!

    1. Glad I could share. It is really one of my favorites.

  4. That poem is brilliant...I've never read it before now!

    1. It has stuck with me since high school - that is how much I love it!

  5. I've never encountered that poem before but it is beautiful. We all wear masks at different points in our life. The only thing is we have to remember is to own the mask and not to let the mask own us.

    1. We really do all wear masks!

      I like what you said - we really do need to make sure we are owning and not being owned by the masks.

  6. I love that poem, I have never read it before but it will definitely stay with me.

    I wonder sometimes if we ever really now the people around us or if we just know the mask we see. I know I rarely let anyone see under my mask!

    1. Glad I could share that with you! It is a favorite of mine.

      I think about this a lot. I know that there are people in my life that don't really know what I am like - colleagues, people I only see sometimes, even some family members.

      I have a lot of masks for a lot of different situations and people.


I share my thoughts and would love to read your thoughts, too.