Saturday, May 3, 2014

Maks and Poems: love or ...what?

It is difficult to find very nice poems about masks. Most of the poets seems to believe that you wear masks over something like yourself. And that is supposedly your  "real", "deep" and "unique" self. I call hat kind of "simplified" psychology, the "onion" theory, because it seems that humans works like onions. Inside there should be something very deep and sincere and if you start to take off layer over layer, one day you can meet the "core", your real self. I believe our soul is a complex stuff. I believe "core" (if there is one) and layers are built from the same person during the same process. I believe that in our lives we build and wear dozens of different masks, each of them part of ourselves, each of them "us" at the same level of dignity. Our masks, all of them, need to be respected and beloved.

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

      We Wear the Mask
    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 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!

The above poem appeared in Dunbar's first professionally published volume, Lyrics of Lowly Life, in 1896 by Dodd, Mead, and Company. It also appeared in the volume Majors and Minors from the previous year. It can be found, for example, in:
- Dunbar, Paul Laurence. The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Joanne M. Braxton, ed. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993.
- Abcarian, Richard, and Marvin Klotz, eds. Literature: The Human Experience(Shorter Fourth Edition with Essays). New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988. 

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