Out of papier-mâché, wood or metal
Molded, we wear them for reasons public.
Ceremonial masks are worn to invoke
The blessings or wrath of gods and goddesses.
Masks are worn on stage as props to heighten
The moods of characters being portrayed.
In Venice exotic masks are worn at balls
To shield the privacy of the wearers
While they cavort and dance by candlelight.
We wear masks, too, in private circumstances
To put our best face forward, so to speak,
And confound others who try to read our real
Motives. No wonder the world is peopled
With masks greeting and conspiring with other
Masks. The only occupational hazard
Of mask wearing is that-after many years
Of flaunting the same comic or tragic
Expression-the owner's face and the mask
Fuse together. In the final analysis,
It is the death mask assumes a person's
Authentic countenance-like a child's serene
Face in sleep-a case of innocence regained
And there is no further need for pretense.

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