The main theme of the poem "Clown's Wife" by Johnson Agard is that appearances are not always what they seem.
In this six stanza poem, the reader is privy to the wife’s thoughts about the two personalities her husband presents, depending on whether he is performing his clown act, or if he is at home. When he is dressed and performing, she says, “Up there he’s a king on a throne, but at home you should hear him moan.”
As he performs, he puts up a façade for the audience in order to entertain them. When he arrives at home there is a role reversal between husband and wife. In his home, he bemoans their circumstances while the wife attempts to provide him with cheer and to lighten his load. She uses all of the clown’s tools such as juggling and card tricks in order to lift his mood. Her actions are metaphors for the many things wives do to provide a steady home life.
Although he resists speaking about what is bothering him, she feels it is her duty to provide a diversion by entertaining him.
And, in his own way, he appreciates her efforts with his quiet words, as stated in the last line of the poem.
Just sits there saying almost to himself, “O life, ah life, what would I do without this clown of a wife?”
When performing for his audience he is majestic; in his home life he is forlorn.