A Clown's Prelude.

A poem by Charles Hamilton Musgrove

Behold! I cover up this trail of tears
A moment's weakness left upon my cheek,
And hush my heart a little ere I speak
Lest the false note ring true on other ears;
The music rises and the empty cheers
Proclaim the harlequin, and lo! I stand
The painted fool again and kiss my hand
With jocund air to Folly's worshippers.
So day by day life's bitter bread is earned
With lips that smile and frame the mirthless joke,
And frailer grows the soul that once was strong,--
The joyless soul of one whose trade has turned
Life's tragic mantle to a jester's cloak,
Life's diapason to a jester's song.

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