Hymn to Dionysus II: God of Masks

tragic_comic_masks_-_roman_mosaic
From a mural in Hadrian’s Villa at Tibur

 

Dionysus, you are the giver of many gifts to mortals,
but not least of them the mask. There is a mask
that grins and lies, and there is a mask
that tells the truth. There is the mask
of the revel-song, and there is the mask
of the goat’s lament. There is the mask
the actor puts on to play the appointed role,
and there is the mask that is the actor
whom you wear to walk among us.

The mask is hollow, but the god within it
is real. O Dionysus, grant me to wear the mask
when I must; grant me to honor those who wear it,
for they are your servants and prophets; grant me
to see through the false mask, the lying mask,
over the hollow soul, and call upon you to free us,
O god of tragedy, comedy, travesty, life, death, truth.

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