by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 - 1906)
Translation © by Walter A. Aue

We wear the mask that grins and lies
Language: English 
Available translation(s): GER
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!

About the headline (FAQ)


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , "Wir tragen die Maske", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2009-04-05
Line count: 15
Word count: 98

Wir tragen die Maske
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the English 
Die Maske tragen wir, die lügt,
die Wang' verbirgt, das Auge trübt, -
so zahlen wir für Menschenlist:
das Herz zerbricht, doch Lächeln sprießt
und unser Worte Schwall betrügt.

Warum soll denn versteh'n die Welt,
welch' Tränen sie und Seufzer zählt?
Sie soll nur seh'n uns als vergnügt,
und nur maskiert.

Wir lächeln, doch der Schrei - Oh Christ! -
aus tief gequälter Seele fließt;
wir singen, doch wie hart der Steg
auf dem wir gehn, wie lang der Weg!
Mach' nur, daß dies die Welt nicht spürt:
Wir sind maskiert!


  • Translation from English to German (Deutsch) copyright © 2010 by Walter A. Aue, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.

    Walter A. Aue.  Contact: waue (AT) dal (DOT) ca

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This text was added to the website: 2010-03-23
Line count: 15
Word count: 91