We wear the mask

The Mask by Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr,, one of the leading letterpress printers, book artists, and papermakers working in the United States today, was printed at Bloomington, Indiana, in 2000. Nearly all of his work has an Afrocentric focus. Mask features the use of wood and metal type, various definitions for the word “mask,” African mask imagery, multiple fold-out pages, and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “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!

 

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