The Mask

Emailed 1 time — Favorited 1 time

The Mask

by Maya Angelou

We wear the mask that grins and lies.
It shades our cheeks and hides our eyes.
This debt we pay to human guile
With torn and bleeding hearts…
We smile and mouth the myriad subtleties.
Why should the world think otherwise
In counting all our tears and sighs.
Nay let them only see us while
We wear the mask.

We smile but oh my God
Our tears to thee from tortured souls arise
And we sing Oh Baby doll, now we sing…
The clay is vile beneath our feet
And long the mile
But let the world think otherwise.
We wear the mask.

When I think about myself
I almost laugh myself to death.
My life has been one great big joke!
A dance that’s walked a song that’s spoke.
I laugh so hard HA! HA! I almos’ choke
When I think about myself.

Seventy years in these folks’ world
The child I works for calls me girl
I say “HA! HA! HA! Yes ma’am!”
For workin’s sake
I’m too proud to bend and
Too poor to break
So…I laugh! Until my stomach ache
When I think about myself.
My folks can make me split my side
I laugh so hard, HA! HA! I nearly died
The tales they tell sound just like lying
They grow the fruit but eat the rind.
Hmm huh! I laugh uhuh huh huh…
Until I start to cry when I think about myself
And my folks and the children.

My fathers sit on benches,
Their flesh count every plank,
The slats leave dents of darkness
Deep in their withered flank.
And they gnarled like broken candles,
All waxed and burned profound.
They say, but sugar, it was our submission
that made your world go round.

There in those pleated faces
I see the auction block
The chains and slavery’s coffles
The whip and lash and stock.

My fathers speak in voices
That shred my fact and sound
They say, but sugar, it was our submission
that made your world go round.

They laugh to conceal their crying,
They shuffle through their dreams
They stepped ’n fetched a country
And wrote the blues in screams.
I understand their meaning,
It could an did derive
From living on the edge of death
They kept my race alive
By wearing the mask! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Notes:

An adaptation of the poem by Paul Lawrence "We Wear the Mask"

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It shades our cheeks and hides our eyes—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should that world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, oh my God, 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 think otherwise,
We wear the mask.

comments powered by Disqus
     

Miscellany


Other poems by Maya Angelou (read randomly)


We wear the mask that grins and lies.
It shades our cheeks and hides our eyes.
This debt we pay to human guile

We, unaccustomed to courage exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple

Soft grey ghosts crawl up my sleeve
to peer into my eyes
while I within deny their threats

When I think about myself,
I almost laugh myself to death,
My life has been one great big joke,

Your skin like dawn
Mine like musk
One paints the beginning

My man is Black Golden Amber Changing.
Warm mouths of Brandy Fine
Cautious sunlight on a patterned rug

That man over there say
a woman needs to be helped into carriages
and lifted over ditches

Your hands easy
weight, teasing the bees
hived in my hair, your smile at the

Your smile, delicate
rumor of peace.
Deafening revolutions nestle in the

Give me your hand
Make room for me
to lead and follow

She came home running
back to the mothering blackness
deep in the smothering blackness

The eye follows, the land
Slips upward, creases down, forms
The gentle buttocks of a young

Tears
The crystal lrags
Viscous tatters

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn’t frighten me at all

A last love,
proper in conclusion,
should snip the wings

Her arms semaphore fat triangles,
Pudgy hands bunched on layered hips
Where bones idle under years of fatback

The free bird leaps
on the back of the win
and floats downstream

Like us on Facebook?