The Mask

By Clarissa Scott Delany

So detached and cool she is
No motion e’er betrays
The secret life within her soul,
The anguish of her days.
She seems to look upon the world
With cold ironic eyes,
To spurn emotion’s fevered sway,
To scoff at tears and sighs.
But once a woman with a child
Passed by her on the street,
And once she heard from casual lips
A man’s name, bitter-sweet.
Such baffled yearning in her eyes,
Such pain upon her face!
I turned aside until the mask
Was slipped once more in place.


    In Clarissa Scott Delany's poem, "The Mask", Delany uses an extended metaphor and image throughout the poem. The image of the poem is a mask as indicated by the title. Delany uses metonymy by only referring to "the mask" once at the end of the poem. Instead, the author refers to the mask in lines like "She seems to look upon the world, With cold ironic eyes".   In her words, "So detached and cool she is", Delany is referring to the fact that during this time period, blacks kept their head down as discrimination was still at large. The lines "She seems to look upon the world, With cold ironic eyes" explains the emotional segregation between blacks and whites due to treatment at the time. The overall meaning of this poem is the that African Americans during this time period had to wear a "mask" to protect themselves from discrimination following the abolition of slavery.