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.
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