The Masked Man
There stands between each one of us,
At least, or so it seems,
A barrier, an armor strong,
To hide our hopes and dreams.
In steel or stone doth not consist,
Nor wooden shield nor clay,
Yet still it watches flesh and bone
Just as a sentry may.
This sentry-mask the will doth weave,
And skillfully apply,
As guard to bar the castle-keep
From each intruder eye.
When wrapped in this concealing cloak,
So natural appears,
That stranger ever fails to mark,
That shield at all he wears.
His form it molds and gracefully,
Though may at times stiff seem;
Yet oft it wearying will grow,
As shouldering a beam.
At length when all have left his side,
Relieved, he then will sigh.
The sentry-mask doth melt away
Then from his heart will cry.
Nay! Weeping is not all restrained,
By filmy guardian stout.
A tender smile, a hearty laugh
As easily could spring out.
A strong embrace, a heartening touch,
A word to lift the heart;
If but this gold doth lie in hold,
What need for sentry part?
What need? What need? The panicked Will
Puts hand, it seems, to sword.
Thrice vigilence sets 'fore the door:
Now dare to touch the hoard!
Why? What is there that cuts you so,
To 'vision your keep disclosed?
Would you display this rigid mask,
Instead of joys and woes?
This sturdy shield is fair enough,
But, Sir, it isn't you!
Do open up your golden store,
If only to a few.
Tis true not all you hide is fair,
For human yet you are.
But locked away 'twill sure decay,
In light is wrought repair.
This skulking cloak doth reek of fear,
Of what are you afraid?
It's loneliness your mask invites,
For solitude 'tis made.
The Will doth flinch: "Good Sir, tis true.
The solitude is hard.
But of unguarded treasure store,
Dare I now be the bard?
"A gift ill-used doth break the heart,
Of giver - there's the pain!
A cheer sincere when hearts are sore,
To them doth cause the same.
"What shall they think if open I,
My keep and deepest thought?
I'm then in danger of assault,
and vuln'rable be caught!
"Tis better keep my doors well barred,
The safe facade retain:
My body, words, my diplomats,
Who must not me betray."
Ah! Fearful Will, I pity Thee!
Wherefore dost lie in terror?
Look there -beyond your desperate try
To fortify in error.
See there is one who opened wide,
The keep of his own treasure.
His heart he gave, his words he sent:
To mock it was their pleasure.
Still in his love he did not hide,
Himself from hate and hurt.
The host swept in, his walls they razed;
His ravaged keep they burnt.
Yet from the wreck and flames engulfed,
He rose and raised again,
The towers and the turrets high;
His hold was filled again.
And from that treasure-keep doth give,
Full pardon for all lives,
And healing and security,
For those of these deprived.
His gates are never shut to us,
No distant mask he wears.
He ever doth speak his hearts-truth;
For man, sincerely cares.
None can his territory rob,
Nor land in conquest take.
His vassals fear no fire or sword,
No scarcity them shake.
For as they open wide their halls,
And spread abroad their wealth,
What has been lost, he fills again:
They need no mask or stealth.
Good Sir, you need no clinging mask;
Who shall your hurt employ?
Disclose the hidden face of yours,
That it may give us joy.
Your imperfections do but show,
The kindness of our Liege,
Who works through them and mends them all:
For that we would not grieve.
True, candor from your lips may wound,
But he who heals is nigh.
We're better off for tears he quench,
Than if our eyes were dry.
Mask, crack and no more crush the soul!
Oh sentry, now do flee!
I need you now no more because,
Another guardeth me.