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Paul Laurence Dunbar. WE WEAR THE MASKS Mikey M eacham . 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

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paul laurence dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar



paul laurence dunbar1
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
  • 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
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
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 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!