No. 197. Cirque d'ennui.

It is in the fifth of e.e.cummings' six nonlectures (now & him), published by Atheneum in 1965, that the poet-lecturer, quoting from his play, Him, has his spiky, autobiographical protagonist suddenly utter cummings' infamous oath, "Damn everything but the circus!" "Him" goes on to say "and here I am, patiently squeezing fourdimensional ideas into a twodimensional stage, when all of me that's anyone or anything is in the top of a circustent...."
He is used to feel that way too. He had adored circuses. He had met the circus train and watered the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey elephants when he was twelve years old. He had collected circus books and posters. He and his childhood friends had put on backyard circuses of their own. He had viewed Cecil B. DeMille's film, The Greatest Show on Earth, twenty times.
But the circus--now politically and environmentally incorrect anyhow--had lost its savour. Just as everything else had. He could no longer bring back, even for a nostalgic moment, the cheap, exhilarating tinsel and housepaint gold, the popcorn and candyfloss, the angel aerialists, the acrid music, the weary, evacuated clowns.
Was it age? Aging seemed to be eating away at everything he once loved--the way rust eats metal.

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