The Greatest Show On Earth

The Circus

The signs went up in storefronts,
About three months ahead,
People filled with great excitement,
As they read what each sign said.

Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey,
No one cared which one,
Just that a circus soon was coming.
Which meant tremendous fun.

When the circus first arrived,
The older boys raced down
To where the train unloaded,
At the outer edge of town.

They got free passes to the Big Show,
If they helped out the circus folks;
And they got sneak peeks at elephants,
And saw sideshow freaks up close.

Then sometime before noon,
The band tuned up to play,
And circus folks and animals,
Commenced their wondrous parade.

South it went on Main Street,
The Ringmaster at the start,
Four horses pulled a calliope,
Playing loudly from a cart.

Lions roared from cages,
Which were pulled by horses, too,
And monkeys on men's shoulders,
Played games of peek-a-boo.

There were zebras; there were tigers,
One cage held a baboon,
A man with a cape and top hat,
Led a pony with a plume.

Teasers for good things to come,
First show ... at eight ... that night;
The next day ... a matinee,
A special show for little tykes.

The great tent then was raised up high,
Big poles anchored in the ground,
The people's seats rose at the sides,
And tons of sawdust scattered 'round.

Big bags of salted popcorn,
Paper cups of lemonade
Pink clouds of cotton candy,
Ice cream that was homemade.

Clowns milled through the crowds and sat
On front row seats with kids,
Who were thrilled beyond all reason,
At the funny things clowns did.

Tightrope walkers overhead,
Pretty lady acrobats,
Big, brown bears on roller skates,
Incredible gymnastic acts.


A favorite stunt of everyone's
Was a tiny car filled-up with clowns,
Dozens crawled out through the doors ...
Wherever did they come from?

Before the show, or afterwards,
Outside the big main tent,
They had extraordinary people,
In what was called sideshow events.

A tattooed lady had tattoos,
From her head down to her toes,
And a man who came from Borneo,
Had a bone right through his nose.

Some lady danced with seven veils,
People said they disappeared;
And there was another woman,
Who had a real man's beard.

They showed the world's tallest man,
And the fattest lady, too;
They had a giant and a midget,
All "in the flesh" to view.

Can't you just imagine,
What youngsters thought of this?
They stood in awe, with open jaw,
Childish fears mixed in with bliss.

For folks who did not travel much,
And, in those days, who could?
They saw the wonders of the world,
In their forever childhood.

They marveled and remembered,
How they were dazzled and spellbound,
By those challenges of innocence,
When the circus came to town.

~ Virginia Ellis ~
Copyright 2000

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