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The Circus Lion (a Poem About Cruelty to Animals in Captivity)

John is passionate about human and animal rights, social justice, equality, and the environment, and likes to convey that in his writing.

I wrote this poem many years ago after actually taking my children to a visiting circus. Of course the events in the poem didn't happen, but as we walked past the animal cages before the show the dejected and unhappy looks on the animals faces made me feel guilty about even being there let alone paying money to encourage and support such a thing.

Fellow hubber and friend, Brenda Arledge has provided a weekly word prompt for the word "freedom" in 'Word Prompts Help Creativity ~ Week 29' so I thought this was the perfect time to update and reshare this poem.

A Proud Lion: Image by Here and now, unfortunately, ends my journey on Pixabay from Pixabay

A Proud Lion: Image by Here and now, unfortunately, ends my journey on Pixabay from Pixabay

Animal abuse is rampant in the U.S., right under everyone's eyes, for the entertainment of the public. The brutal confinement and pain of training methods of wild animals in the circus, the aquatic and theatrical shows, leads to retaliation by the animals. Eventually they find the right time to strike out, and they will.

— Tippi Hedren

The Circus Lion

Children gather in the streets,

Laughter on their faces.

Happy voices cheering loud,

Excited acclamation.


What's the reason for such gaiety?

Hey- look there's a clown,

A juggler and an acrobat,

The circus is in town.


A proud lion paces in a cage,

Fierce frown upon his face,

Arrogant but trapped by bars,

He hates the human race.


Long ago when just a cub,

Roaming wild and free.

A land so vast with endless plains,

The ideal place to be.


One fateful day men came with guns

And fired without a care,

To capture trophies for their walls,

And panic filled the air.


A lioness fell down at his side

Her heart a bullet tore.

A net was dropped upon the cub,

Freedom his no more.


Caged and placed upon a ship

Bound for far away.

Never to be free again,

To join the circus frey.


Always carefree in the wild

Content just to survive,

Now he feels both fear and rage,

For freedom does he strive.


The Circus: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The Circus: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Forced to learn tricks and perform,

To jump through blazing hoops.

Teased by men with whips and chairs,

How low does mankind stoop?


The three ring circus is in town,

The "Greatest Show On Earth".

People flock from miles around

Expressing joyful mirth.


The dancing stallions in ring one

with shining coats and manes aflow.

Marching, prancing, raring high,

Long tails waving to and fro.


Ring two has the high trapeze,

All young eyes are staring.

Flying freely through the air,

Beautiful and daring.


And now the 'Greatest Show On Earth"

Presents its main attraction,

Guaranteed to thrill you all,

Danger, non-stop action.


Gents and ladies, boys and girls,

Kids of every age,

Avert your eyes to center ring,

Here comes the lion cage.


Within the cage are not just lions,

But tigers, leopards too

Angry fear in all their eyes,

Made beg and jump on cue.


The lion tamer, bold and brave

Enters cautiously the cage.

Despised on sight by all the cats,

A whip protects him from their rage.

I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery.

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Every time he cracks the whip

The big cats must obey,

Humiliation in their hearts,

On him they'd like to prey.


Just one slip is all it takes,

The big man trips and falls.

He tries to scramble to his feet,

But a lion leaps swift, and mauls.


The crowd at first is stunned and quiet,

But soon a scream rings out.

All the cats have joined the frey,

"Get guns!" someone shouts.


Soon shots are fired into the cage,

A lion and tiger fall.

The other cats try to escape

But the cage is much too small.


All the beasts are soon destroyed,

The bodies dragged away.

The crowd sit shocked within their seats,

They won't forget this day.


How can man condemn a beast

That's taken from its home,

Caged and kept against its will,

Imprisoned and alone?


Although the proud lion lost it's life

At least now he was free.

Avenged the man who taunted him,

And escaped captivity.


So you see, the Circus

Is not all it appears,

Underneath the laughter

Lurks a million tears.

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

— Albert Camus

Free at Last: Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

Free at Last: Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

© 2013 John Hansen

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