Today is the last day of National Poetry Month and I’ve decided to end with a discussion of one of my favorite poems, “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Published six years before W.E.B. Du Bois coined the term “double consciousness,” Dunbar’s poem evokes the feelings of African-Americans desiring true citizenship in a country that was consistently creating barriers that would hinder their inclusion in society.
My favorite lines of the poem are “With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,/And mouth with myriad subtleties.” In my opinion, these lines show not only the emotional distress associated with being African-American at the height of the Jim Crow Era but also the perseverance to achieve greatness in United States’ society.
What is your favorite Dunbar poem?