Send in the Clowns

 

clownsIllustration Credit: Ben Smith

The World Clown Association is up in arms.

A recent outbreak of anti-social behaviour, in various countries, by people dressed as clowns is tarnishing their professional image. (This doesn’t include the ones in the British Parliament, or over in the USA, currently involved in the Clinton / Trump Circus.)

These outbreaks are worrying me. I have always held a close affection for clowns. It stems from my childhood days watching them running around the circus throwing buckets of confetti at unsuspecting audiences.

Clowns first appeared in the Fifth dynasty of ancient Egypt and, through time, have provided much material for writers and poets. Fool characters named Clown appear in Shakespeare’s Othello and A Winter’s Tale. Dame Edith Sitwell’s, Clown Houses and Vachel Lindsay’s, The Angel and the Clown, are famous examples of poetry with clowns as the focus. Perhaps the most famous Clown poem is,  A Clown’s Prayer, the writer unknown.

“As I stumble through this life,
Help me to create more laughter than tears,
Dispense more happiness than gloom,
Spread more cheer than despair.

Never let me become so indifferent,
That I will fail to see the wonder
In the eyes of a child,
Or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.

Never let me forget that my total effort is to cheer people,
Make them happy, and forget momentarily,
All the unpleasantness in their lives.

And in my final moment,
May I hear you whisper:
“When you made My people smile,
You made Me smile.”

The Clown’s Prayer has become the mantra for clowns, comedians and performers worldwide. The verses provide wonderful words to carry into any day.

Do you have any poetic thoughts or stories to share about Clowns?

I would love to hear them.

37 Comments

your poem is haunting, Davy. And your prose is both informative and heartfelt. Your words just flow and they surely are from your mind.

I’ve never been fond of clowns. I am one of those kids who are afraid of them. I am naturally a scaredy cat. HAHA

Great job!

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    Thank you for the kind words Rosema. I think with the rise of the horror / slash flick movie genre the clown has taken on a more sinister persona. People associate them more with Halloween than the Circus. Thanks for taking time out to read and start off the conversation 🙂

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Interesting history, Davy, plus a poem I hadn’t come across before. Topical subject with a positive slant rather than all the scare stories in the press recently.

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    Cheers Roland. I thought I would try and create some balance as I have been referred to as a clown on numerous occasions. I may be one of them. Thanks for dropping by and joining in the conversation.

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One year my school did dressing up for comic relief, and I went as a clown, complete with outfit, wig and makeup. In a moment typical of my career, that was the week I won ‘teacher of the week’ and had my photo taken for the school website.

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This is a very refreshing post, Davy! I’d never heard the clowns’ prayer, and you showed me that they have a good place, are good people–despite all the bad stuff: LOVED your reference to our election circus, hahahahahaha!!! Except that it has kind of stopped being funny and is now scaring me worse than clowns ever did… The weekend’s almost here–have a good one, my friend!!

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Something I have just came up with after reading your post. I must warn you though, it is not a happy poem.

Clowns

Dreadful people
With fake smiles on their faces
Miserable souls
With the task of entertaining children.

Put a wig on, draw a smile
And there you have
A career as a clown
With the task of entertaining children.

Some have failed
By visiting children’s most sacred fears
Sneak up on scared adults
Violating that career path.

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I love the poem, I’ve never associated the clowns with any feelings but the poem kinda makes them feel real

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Hi Davy, I really liked the last stanza of ‘A clown’s prayer’ that part feels the most true. Interesting piece of writing too.

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    Thank you David. I had read the poem many years ago and re-visiting it made it more pertinent for the world today. Thanks for reading the post and taking time out to comment.

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I have always been terrified of clowns, long before I knew anything about the bad things that humans were capable of. I do not know the root of that fear. I remember as a very little girl, younger than school age, being at a Christmas parade in town. The clowns were walking up and down the street selling balloons and other parade-y things. I saw them coming and freaked. I hid in the shadows in a corner of the courthouse, hoping and praying that the clowns would not see me. I was absolutely terrified.

Clowns still scare me and my children have always been afraid of them to. I almost wonder if it is genetic. When our two youngest were toddlers, we went to a street fair. There was a clown named Dottie there. It was a male clown and very persistent. We told him to leave the children alone because he was scaring them. He would not stop trying to get to them. The older children (teens at the time) and myself circled around the little ones so that the clown couldn’t actually touch them. David told Dottie, again, to leave the kids alone. It escalated to the point that David had to threaten the clown with bodily harm before the Dottie left them alone. He kept insisting that the babies wanted to see him. I guess crying and screaming were not clues enough that NO they did not want anything to do with him.

This current killer clown bit isn’t helping the careers of the good clowns, but it isn’t doing the rest of us any favors either.

Have a blessed weekend.

Liked by 1 person

I’ve always felt sort of neutral about clowns. Your post sent me into deeper thought about them. After all, I’ve always worn my feelings on my sleeves.

I’m saddened by what I see both politically and socially. Clowns evoke pathos, which many have difficulty expressing, both happiness and sorrow. The true essence of clownhood (you’re not the only one who makes up words), at least with authentic clowns, conjures up deep emotion. They express what we clumsily attempt to cover-up. Or in the case of Shakespeare and often in life, they bring comic relief. What I see on stage, currently, is a skit being acted out by phonies. The politicians could be thought of as clowns, but a different sort of clown, speaking to our basest emotions. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I’m saddened by others’ real life experiences with clowns. Cowards have always pedaled their ill intent behind the convenience of a disguise. I prefer to remember clowns as they appeared in my childhood – watching them from the safety of a loving adult’s arms. And I’m sad for the genuine clowns. Their only desire is to put us in touch with our feelings and make us smile.

David, I love the alliteration. You just gave me an earworm, though. “Send in the clowns” sung by Judy Collins. But didn’t Joni Mitchell write it? Thanks for such a thought provoking post.

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    Thank you for this very thought provoking response Laura. When I was thinking about writing the post the Judy Collins song came into my head and provided the title for the post. The song was apparently wrote by Stephen Sondheim for the musical “A Little Night Music.” I like the word clownhood. Maybe we could get one of our made up words in the dictionary. Have a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

Of course! Yes, it’s from “A Little Night Music.” I feel so silly. I got “Both Sides Now” and “Send in the Clowns” mixed up 🙂

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Davy, I don’t know if you saw my reply on Twitter, but I would like to credit this post for this week’s Earworm in my Surferbird News-Links, Saturday. I would provide a link to this post. I’m going to share a Judy Collins performance of the song, hopefully, and give credit to you for the idea. Is that OK?

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    Laura, that is fine. I just picked the message up on Twitter. I am a bit on slow time with it some days. Thank you it would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      Great! No worries about Twitter. I haven’t been on much this week, either. I wanted to make sure I had your permission, and I didn’t want to appear spammy on your blog. Of course, why else would we have started blogs if we didn’t want people to see our work? Now, I just need to find a youtube of Judy Collins performing the song!

      Liked by 1 person

      Thank you Laura 🙂

      Like

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[…] wonderful way to support one another on this adventure called blogging. Last week, I stumbled upon Davy D’s thought provoking post on clowns. At this point, you might be able to guess where today’s earworm is headed. Stephen Sondheim […]

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