Identify the scansion in the poem "We Wear the Mask."

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The meter of Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "We Wear the Mask" is iambic. Thirteen of its fifteen lines are iambic tetrameter, which means they have four feet and eight syllables. A foot of iambic verse (known as an iamb) consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, sometimes represented by the sounds "di dum." Therefore, a line of iambic tetrameter can be written out thus:

di dum di dum di dum di dum

You can see that this pattern fits the lines of Dunbar's poem:

We wear the mask that grins and lies ...

Dunbar writes particularly smooth and regular lines, seldom deviating from the meter at all. However, in line 5, the word "myriad" must be pronounced in a slightly unnatural way, using two syllables instead of three, to maintain the meter.

The poem is a rondeau, meaning that two of the lines repeat the first four syllables of the first line. This is why lines 9 and 15 are half the length of the others, making their meter iambic dimeter.

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