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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…
I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stir soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from the chalice steals-
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly to his perch and cling
When the fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And the pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting-
I know why he
Ah, Douglass, we have fall’n on evil days,
Such days as thou, not even thou didst know,
When thee, the eyes of that harsh long ago
Saw, salient, at the cross of devious ways,
And all the country heard thee with amaze.
Not ended then, the passionate ebb and flow,
The awful tide that battled to and fro;
We ride amid a tempest of dispraise.
Now, when the waves of swift, dissension swarm,
And Honor, the strong pilot, lieth stark,
Oh, for thy voice high-sounding o’er the storm,
For thy strong arm to guide the shivering bark,
The blast-defying power of thy form,
To give us comf