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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Author Unknown

The Clown’s Song

“HERE I am!”—and the house rejoices;

Forth I tumble from out the slips;

“Here I am!”—and a hundred voices

Welcome me on with laughing lips.

The master, with easy pride,

Treads the sawdust down;

Or quickens the horse’s stride,

And calls for his jesting clown.

“What, ho, Mr. Merriman!—Dick,

Here’s a lady that wants your place.”

I throw them a somerset, quick,

And grin in some beauty’s face.

I tumble and jump and chaff,

And fill them with wild delights;

Whatever my sorrow, I laugh

Through the summer and winter nights.

I joke with the men, if I dare;

Do they strike, why I cringe and stoop;

And I ride like a bird in air,

And I jump through the blazing hoop.

Whatever they say or do,

I am ready with joke and gibe;

And whenever the jests are new,

I follow, like all my tribe.

But life is not all a jest,

Whatever the wise ones say;

For when I steal home to rest

(And I seek it at dawn of day),

If winter, there is no fire;

If summer, there is no air:

My welcome’s a hungry choir

Of children, and scanty fare.

My wife is as lean a scold

As famine can make man’s wife;

We are both of us sour and old

With drinking the dregs of life.

Yet why do I sigh? I wonder,

Would the Pit or the Boxes sigh,

Should I wash off my paint, and, under,

Show how a fool must die?