The Circus where no-one laughs



They have lions and tigers and merry-go-rounds,

calliopes hissing with tremulous sound;

and on the trapezes way from the ground,

tumblers weave their path.

But though the great tent is a bedlam of noise

no bright sound will come from the girls and the boys.

They sit in their seats stiff and solemn, because

it's the circus where no-one laughs.


No-one applauds here, and no-one is gay;

disallusionment finally has had its gaunt way.

Magic and wonder are bad words, they say;

there is nothing at which to laugh.

No greasepaint is seen on the face of the clown,

no star-spangled tights catch the light all around.

All magic is stripped, all glamour is down

in the circus where no-one laughs.




© John McNeil 1998. All rights reserved.
This poem may be used free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged to a performance. In exchange, the author would appreciate being notified of any occasion the poem is used in public performance. He may be contacted at: