Explain what the speaker feared in the poem, "Masque."  Masque I’m standing back, now, looking back at last on all those crowded days and nights relentlessly erupting on face and steet   each...

Explain what the speaker feared in the poem, "Masque."

 

Masque

I’m standing back, now,

looking back

at last

on all those crowded

days and nights

relentlessly erupting

on face and steet

 

each face, voice, mannerism

meticulously chosen and applied

for fear

that yours would be the one,

the one that slipped,

or didn’t fit,

 

the one the rest saw

over their shoulders

as they shrank away from you.

 

Asked on by wanderista

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The title of the poem, "Masque," seems to suggest that the speaker is thinking about a masque ball, where everybody wears a mask to disguise their appearance and cover up their true face. This seems to be a central metaphor of the poem, and the second stanza in particular makes us think that the masks that various characters wear are really to prevent their true selves being seen by others. In particular, it appears that everybody, the speaker included, is very careful to don a particular mask in order to prevent the person that this poem is written to expose their true face and take of his mask:

each face, voice, mannerism

meticulously chosen and applied

for fear

that yours would be the one,

the one that slipped,

or didn’t fit,

The "fear" that is in this poem therefore is based on the speaker's feelings towards the person she is addressing and the true nature of his character which is revealed when his "mask" slips or when it doesn't fit. The terrible nature of this mask is demonstrated by the final stanza, which makes us think of the face of this person as everbody cowers away from him once his mask has been taken off. The speaker is therefore afraid of this person revealing their true self to both her and to those around them.

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