|ELCore.Net > Poetry > Catholic Poets > Poems of Joyce Kilmer|
|The Big Top|
The boom and blare of the big brass band is cheering to my heart|
And I like the smell of the trampled grass and elephants and hay.
I take off my hat to the acrobat with his delicate, strong art,
And the motley mirth of the chalk-faced clown drives all my care away.
I wish I could feel as they must feel, these players brave and fair,|
Who nonchalantly juggle death before a staring throng.
It must be fine to walk a line of silver in the air
And to cleave a hundred feet of space with a gesture like a song.
Sir Henry Irving never knew a keener, sweeter thrill|
Than that which stirs the breast of him who turns his painted face
To the circling crowd who laugh aloud and clap hands with a will
As a tribute to the clown who won the great wheel-barrow race.
Now, one shall work in the living rock with a mallet and a knife,|
And another shall dance on a big white horse that canters round a ring,
By another’s hand shall colours stand in similitude of life;
And the hearts of the three shall be moved by one mysterious high thing.
For the sculptor and the acrobat and the painter are the same.|
They know one hope, one fear, one pride, one sorrow and one mirth,
And they take delight in the endless fight for the fickle world’s acclaim;
For they worship art above the clouds and serve her on the earth.
But you, who can build of the stubborn rock no form of loveliness,|
Who can never mingle the radiant hues to make a wonder live,
Who can only show your little woe to the world in a rhythmic dress
What kind of a counterpart of you does the three-ring circus give?
Wellhere in the little side-show tent to-day some people stand,|
One is a giant, one a dwarf, and one has a figured skin,
And each is scarred and seared and marred by Fate’s relentless hand,
And each one shows his grief for pay, with a sort of pride therein.
You put your sorrow into rhyme and want the world to look;|
You sing the news of your ruined hope and want the world to hear;
Their woe is pent in a canvas tent and yours in a printed book.
O, poet of the broken heart, salute your brothers here!
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Lane Core Jr. (email@example.com)
Created April 1, 2001; not revised.