Lay for the Day 18th
birthday, in 1778, of Joseph Grimaldi the father of modern clowning,
still honoured in an annual service at the clowns' church, Holy Trinity
in Dalston, east London.
made his debut at Sadlers Wells in Islington at the age of three.
In 1806, his first great hit, Harlequin and Mother Goose at Covent
Garden, took £20,000 in a run of 92 nights. When he retired at the
age of 45, a lifetime of pranks and pratfalls had left him barely able
later years, living on a pension of £100 a year from the Drury Lane
Theatrical Fund, he spent his evenings down the pub, the Marquis of Cornwallis
in Pentonville, sitting by the fire. The landlord would carry him home
on his back each night.
his death in 1837, Charles Dickens wrote: the clown left the stage
with Grimaldi, and though often heard of, has never since been seen.
the book of Praises:
41. Of a Clown
Your empty face mirrors ours,
white as deaths absolute joke;
not as glass and mercury
invent, but the clear portrait
of a stranger we look through.
Behold a heart blushing red
as the Chinese lantern plants
berry through skeletal lace
of its pod, made visible
by your outfits glitz and tat.
You fall to lighten our days
uneasy rising and fail
perfectly to beat the clock.
Every knock strikes a link off
childhood, when time was weightless.
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