Paul Laurence Dunbar WE WEAR THE MASKS MikeyMeacham
Paul Laurence Dunbar • Born on June 27, 1872, Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first African-American poets to gain national recognition • His parents were freed slaves from Kentucky • He was a fine student but financially he was unable to attend college and got a job as a elevator operator • In 1892, a former teacher invited him to read his poems at a meeting of the Western Association of Writers; his work impressed his audience to such a degree that the popular poet James Whitcomb Riley wrote him a letter of encouragement • In 1895 Dunbar’s poems started to appear in major national newspapers and magazines, such as The New York Times
Parapahse • The poem is about slaves working for land owners and how hard they work and how there is always work to do and no break. • The poem talks about oppressed black Americans forced to hide their pain and frustration behind masks • This poem also talks about blacks wearing masks not to show their true feelings towards their owners. • Also the poem is about slaves dreaming of slavery finally being abolished.
Poetic devices An example of apostrophe- “We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries too thee from tortured souls. An example of personification- “with torn and bleeding hearts we smile”, “Too thee tortured souls arise Example of alliteration- “ With torn and bleeding hearts We smile and Mouth With Myriad subtleties”. Paradox- the poem wears a mask because it does not mention racial prejudice but the poem is about it
Speaker and tone • The speaker is a slave living on a plantation that has been beaten down and wears a masks to hide his pain. • The attitude of the poem is helpless and depressed that the slaves will never get out of being worked to death. • He shows helplessness by using the verbs tears. Sighs, bleeding, hides
We Wear The Masks • WE wear the mask that grins and lies, • It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— Alliteration • This debt we pay to human guile; • With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, Personification • And mouth with myriad subtleties. • Why should the world be over-wise, Apostrophe- lines 1 and 2 stanza 3 • In counting all our tears and sighs? • Nay, let them only see us, while Metaphor • 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!