ROUND the huge, darkened circle of the stalls
intent and laughing faces show like chalk,
while round the sawdust ring, black hat in hands,
and tragic in his fool’s solemnity,
the clown, with all a hunter’s tense resolve,
follows the dancing spotlight on the ground.
He drops his hat upon it; leaps for joy;
crouches, and lifts, and peers beneath the brim
to gloat upon his capture; but the gleam
dances upon his bald, dishonored crown
and passes; and the chase begins again.
And this is death; this eager, fumbling fool
who lurches after us with comic stealth
and crudely gestured glee, his battered hat
of darkness, terrible and ludicrous,
held out to catch our jack-o’-lantern lives;
who kills, and kills again, and never sees
that life eludes him, mocks him as he crows,
and flickers wanton on its ancient way.