Tag Archives: poetry

The Naming of Clowns


flickr photo shared by Chris Blakeley under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Inspired by Bryan Alexander’s recent Infocult posts on clown panic and an offhand email comment about the naming of clowns, I was reminded of TS Eliot, and, well, here’s the result:

The Naming of Clowns is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a clown must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the victims use daily,
Such as Flomo, Wasco Clown, Shoota or Gags,
Such as ClappyandSlappy, or Bingerman Clownferd
All of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a clown needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his hair perpendicular,
Or shine up his clown shoes, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Memento Maury, or Harbinger Down,
Such as Killer O’Squirrel, or else Mauler Abhorum—
Names that never belong to more than one clown.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—
But THE CLOWN HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a clown in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

The Austrian Stir

Sitting in a Viennese coffee house,
My aunt said to me, “Look at them stirring.
Slowly, unrushed. There’s no hurry at all.”
What was the rush? There was time to stir the cup
“That’s not how people stir coffee at home.
Slosh the spoon around the cup a few times,
And we’re done.There’s no time to stir slowly;
Slurp down the java and get back to work.”
That summer is past, and Nellie’s passed on,
But at coffee time, I still remember
The Austrian stir: take time to enjoy,
Moment by moment, pay attention to now.
Yet try as I might to slow down my stir,
Each cup brings another quick slosh.