At the Circus

by George Arnold

George Arnold

Across the stage, with its blaze of lights,
From fly to fly in the heated air
A slack rope hung, and in spangled tights
Sat " Signor" somebody swinging there.
Now he swung by a single arm;
Now by a single leg swung he;
A fall had done him a grievous harm,
He balanced and turned so recklessly.
I watched awhile. "It is well," I said,
" If people want reckless feats, it is well.
The tickets are bought, the money is paid,
And'twere more of a show if he but fell."
I turned away: he was swinging yet:
And I glanced on the crowded house around, -
Boxes, circle, and wide parquette
Breathlessly watching, without a sound.
In a graceful pose, on a cushioned seat,
I saw Her sitting, to gaze at the man.
You could almost have heard my poor heart beat,
With the riotous blood that through it ran.
There she sat, with her splendid eyes
Fixed on the fellow so earnestly,
With more of the interest I should prize
Than ever she gave in a glance to me.
Every time that he balanced and turned,
O, but her eyes grew large and shone,
Her bosom heaved and her fair cheek burned:
To me she had been like a block of stone.
This poor, pitiful circus man,
Swinging each night for his daily bread,
Had moved her more, since his act began,
Than I could, stretched on my dying-bed.
Hollow, hollow, and false as hell!
Love is a cheat, and life is a wreck!
What cared I if he swung or fell?
What cared I if he broke his neck?

Last updated September 17, 2022