The JIS Poetry Page

Some juggling-related poetry culled from the net:

Juggling Balls, Beth Wilson
untitled, Anna Dearinger
The Juggler Defines His Art, Mekeel McBride
Selected Quotations, William Shakespeare
(untitled), Anonymous
(title unknown), Samuel Butler
The Waste Land, T. S. Eliot
(unknown), Xenophan
The Juggler, Richard Wilbur
(limerick), Anonymous
the juggler, R. Byrnes
Catch, Robert Francis
Theory of Everything, Lawrence Schimel

Juggling Balls
Beth Wilson (age 13)
Juggling balls are round,
Juggling balls are sound,
Juggling's what there for,
They often end up on the floor.
I can juggle with juggling balls,
They bounce off the walls,
They hit me in the face.
That's NOT the place
For juggling balls to be,
They're meant to be in the air, actually

(contributed by Rob Stone)

Anna Dearinger (1913 - 1984)
Juggler's magic spell:
Five white balls twirl and dazzle,
Blue spotlight dances.

(contributed by Steven Ragatz: "Once in a while something happens that you know that you will be proud of for the rest of you life. I have always felt great warmth having someone react this way to one of my performances. My grandmother-in-law was a semi-famous poet. She published several books and anthologies. The last book she wrote before she died was a collection of Haiku. The last poem in this last book was written about me.")

The Juggler Defines His Art
Mekeel McBride
(from "No Ordinary World," Carnegie-Mellon Univ. Press, 1979)
It matters little to him. He can take stones
in his hand or birds or bits of burning wood
and storm the sky as sure as a meteor shower.

Ask him how and he will sigh, saying
"Ah, I have married Lady Gravity
and these, these are my children."

Then ask him what it is
he loves so much that he is able to suspend
all belief in the solid world.

And he will say, "The heart is an orange,
a porcelain cup, a closet
that has not been opened in years.

My own heart I am no longer sure of.
Once it was a golden watch.
I gave it to the woman I loved;

each jewel in that watch, a planet.
Each planet, a place where we were safe.
Now I am no longer sure of anything but

time passing on her lost wrist
as I pass hand over hand, far above
your amazed faces, my bright and weightless life."

(contributed by Phil Paxton)

Selected Quotations
William Shakespeare
"The Comedy of Errors", I.ii.96, Antipholus of Syracuse:
They say this town is full of cozenage,
As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye,
Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind,
Soul-killing witches that deform the body,
Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks,
And many such-like liberties of sin:
If it prove so, I will be gone the sooner.
I'll to the Centaur, to go seek this slave:
I greatly fear my money is not safe.

"The Comedy of Errors", V.i.237, Antipholus of Ephesus:
Along with them
They brought one Pinch, a hungry lean-faced villain,
A mere anatomy, a mountebank,
A threadbare juggler and a fortune-teller,
A needy, hollow-eyed, sharp-looking wretch,
A dead-looking man: this pernicious slave,
Forsooth, took on him as a conjurer,
And, gazing in mine eyes, feeling my pulse,
And with no face, as 'twere, outfacing me,
Cries out, I was possess'd.

"Hamlet", IV.v.128, Laertes:
How came he dead? I'll not be juggled with:
To hell, allegiance! vows, to the blackest devil!

"King Henry IV, Part II", II.iv.121, Doll Tearsheet:
Away, you cut-purse rascal! you filthy bung, away!
by this wine, I'll thrust my knife in your mouldy
chaps, an you play the saucy cuttle with me. Away,
you bottle-ale rascal! you basket-hilt stale
juggler, you!

"King Henry VI, Part I", V.iv.68, York:
She and the Dauphin have been juggling:
I did imagine what would be her refuge.

"King Henry VIII", I.iii.1, Chamberlain:
Is't possible the spells of France should juggle
Men into such strange mysteries?

"King John", III.i.162, King John:
Though you and all the kings of Christendom
Are led so grossly by this meddling priest,
Dreading the curse that money may buy out;
And by the merit of vile gold, dross, dust,
Purchase corrupted pardon of a man,
Who in that sale sells pardon from himself,
Though you and all the rest so grossly led
This juggling witchcraft with revenue cherish,
Yet I alone, alone do me oppose
Against the pope and count his friends my foes.

"Macbeth", V.viii.19, Macbeth:
And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
That palter with us in a double sense;
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream", III.ii.285, Hermia:
O me! you juggler! you canker-blossom!
You thief of love! what, have you come by night
And stolen my love's heart from him?

"Troilus and Cressida", II.iii.68, Thersites:
Here is such patchery, such juggling and such
knavery! all the argument is a cuckold and a
whore; a good quarrel to draw emulous factions
and bleed to death upon.

"Troilus and Cressida", V.ii.23:
Cressida: In faith, I cannot: what would you have me do?
Thersites: A juggling trick,--to be secretly open.

(contributed by Steve Ness, who searched his Shakespeare CD-ROM: "'As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye' is my favorite phrase here, followed by 'And be these juggling fiends no more believed.' I get the impression the Bard did not hold jugglers in high regard.

    When juggling rubber chickens
       by the neck
         in public
    Be careful
      not to choke them

(found on the net)

(title unknown)
Samuel Butler (1612-1690)
Doubtless the pleasure is as great
Of being cheated, as to cheat.
As lookers-on feel most delight,
That least perceive a juggler's sleight,
And still the less they understand,
The more th' admire his slight of hand.

(contributed by Robert Edward Gruhl (Orph)

The Waste Land (excerpt)
T. S. Eliot
Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forc'd.

(contributed by Rob Stone, who asks "does this mean that TSE could do 6 balls or just a cascade twice?")


GReg Cohen wrote: "If i remember correctly, Xenophan (I think I've got the spelling correct, he was an ancient roman writer/philosopher) in his book Symposium had a poem about the heavens containing a juggler who was juggling the stars and planets. The whole book is in verse, as this was the way scholarly books were written back then."

The Juggler
Richard Wilbur
A ball will bounce, but less and less. It's not
A light-hearted thing, resents its own resilience.
Falling is what it loves, and the earth falls
So in our hearts from brilliance,
Settles and is forgot.
It takes a skyblue juggler with five red balls

To shake our gravity up. Whee, in the air
The balls roll round, wheel on his wheeling hands,
Learning the ways of lightness, alter to spheres
Grazing his finger ends,
Cling to their courses there,
Swinging a small heaven about his ears.

But a heaven is easier made of nothing at all
Than the earth regained, and still and sole within
The spin of worlds, with a gesture sure and noble
He reels that heaven in ,
Landing it ball by ball,
And trades it all for a broom, a plate, a table.

Oh, on his toe the table is turning, the broom's
Balancing up on his nose, and the plate whirls
On the tip of the broom! Damn, what a show, we cry:
The boys stamp, and the girls
Shriek, and the drum booms
And all comes down, and he bows and says goodbye.

If the juggler is tired now, if the broom stands
In the dust again, if the table starts to drop
Through the daily dark again, and though the plate
Lies flat on the table top,
For him we batter our hands
Who has won for once over the world's weight.

(contributed by Brian Milner)

A juggling fool called Irene
Lit her torches with pure kerosene
    Then she started absorbin'
    A new new hydrocarbon
    Since then she has never benzene.

(contributed by Alan "Crunchy Frog" Morgan)

the juggler
A juggler folks! Who is like him?
Makes magic patterns in the air
So fast, so free, so happy
You see a man without a care

Ball and ring, he makes them sing
As he does with everything
Club and fire, higher and higher
Wonder and amazement bring

So next time you see a juggler
See not just the clever tricks
There's a very happy person
Behind those balls and knives and sticks

(contributed by the author)

Robert Francis
Two boys uncoached are tossing a poem together,
Overhand, underhand, backhand, sleight-of-hand, every hand,
Teasing with attitudes, latitudes, interludes, altitudes,
High, make him fly off the ground for it, low, make him stoop,
Make him scoop it up, make him as-almost-as-possible miss it,
Fast, let him sting from it, now, now fool him slowly,
Anything, everything tricky, risky, nonchalant,
Anything under the sun to outwit the prosy,
Over the tree and the long sweet candence down,
Over his head make him scramble to pick up the meaning,
And now, like a posy, a pretty one plump in his hands.

(Jim Dorman writes: "This was sent to me by a fellow juggler who is not yet netted. It wasn't written specifically about juggling, but when I read it I could think of nothing else. Those of you who know what ZOC (Zone Of Catchability) test are will appreciate this. Enjoy...")

Theory of Everything
Lawrence Schimel
text not available, due to copyright, but worth digging up: Physics Today, October 1994, page 24

The JIS Poetry Page / Juggling Information Service /
© 1996 Juggling Information Service. All Rights Reserved.