Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 194
Context: The poem begins with the words, "quite unexpectedly," but withholds the unexpected while it goes through a descriptive passage deceivingly light and beguilingly amusing. The poet gives a sweeping view of several concurrent spectacles taking place under the big top at a three-ring circus–before the unexpected happened. Performing all at once were the armless ambidextrian, Ralph the lion, the band and the clowns when "quite unexpectedly the top blew off," leaving nothing but the black void of the night sky overhead. The repetition of there focuses attention upon the empty night as seen through the open top. The poem suddenly conveys the sense of a terrible awe accompanying the hush and darkness of the scene. The unexpected event becomes a gloomy revelation of the end of the world, and carries with it a deep philosophical significance, naturalistic in implication. The picture is presented vividly and intensely:
And there, there overhead, there, there, hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing–nothing at all.
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