I’ll tell you the story of Cloony the Clown
Who worked in a circus that came through town.
His shoes were too big and his hat was too small,
But he just wasn’t, just wasn’t funny at all.
He had a trombone to play loud silly tunes,
He had a green dog and a thousand balloons.
He was floppy and sloppy and skinny and tall,
But he just wasn’t, just wasn’t funny at all.
And every time he did a trick,
Everyone felt a little sick.
And every time he told a joke,
Folks sighed as if their hearts were broke.
And every time he lost a shoe,
Everyone looked awfully blue.
And every time he stood on his head,
Everyone screamed, “Go back to bed!”
And every time he made a leap,
Everybody fell asleep.
And every time he ate his tie,
Everyone began to cry.
And Cloony could not make any money
Simply because he was not funny.
One day he said, “I’ll tell this town
How it feels to be an unfunny clown.”
And he told them all why he looked so sad,
And he told them all why he felt so bad.
He told of Pain and Rain and Cold,
He told of Darkness in his soul,
And after he finished his tale of woe,
Did everyone cry? Oh no, no, no,
They laughed until they shook the trees
With “Hah-Hah-Hahs” and “Hee-Hee-Hees.”
They laughed with howls and yowls and shrieks,
They laughed all day, they laughed all week,
They laughed until they had a fit,
They laughed until their jackets split.
The laughter spread for miles around
To every city, every town,
Over mountains, ‘cross the sea,
From Saint Tropez to Mun San Nee.
And soon the whole world rang with laughter,
Lasting till forever after,
While Cloony stood in the circus tent,
With his head drooped low and his shoulders bent.
And while the world laughed outside.
Cloony the Clown sat down and cried.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Shel Silverstein's poem Cloony The Clown


  1. Jessica Baronich says:

    I have this book at home and the poem is so awesome! i love this poem so much! it is so hilarious!

  2. bb says:

    what kind of literary devices are used in the poem? i oved i

  3. Cris B. says:

    great poem. not totally off the wall like his other poems. i think that it points out, in a clever and funny way, how people chose to humor themselves at others expense. And how people can laugh at a terible instant in people lives simply because they are clowns. after all thats what they are meant for, right.

  4. Suswana says:

    This poem is not funny. It is very sad. On April 28th it’s poem in your pocket day. I am going to pick so poem. Because the message is that people don’t think about other peoples feelings and how they would feel if somebody else did the same thing as they did.

  5. Andrew says:

    I was wondering if anybody knew what “Mun San Nee” was a reference to. If anybody knows, it would be great if you could help me out here. Thanks for the help!

  6. Ella says:

    Ok this is like the best poem i have ever read ever!! Its really sad!
    In sixth gr. we had to do this thing where every1 read a story or something to like inspire ppl and u had 2 say wat u thought the message was and I read this poem to them and every1 thought hte message was that u can be funny if u try hard enough and it made me mad cuz it wasnt!!

  7. Jaz says:

    Great poem I loved it nice and long about a clown who
    couldn’t make people laugh it was cool I liked it and
    it was funny


  8. Corey says:

    thank you so much, you saved my life. i’m reciting a poem tomorrow in my 7th grade class and i chose cloony the clown. i couldnt find the book so i was worried. then i looked online and bam! there it was. thank you again!!!

  9. Shanamabad Jehru-Al Kazeer says:

    This very good. Help me english better. I feel very emotionall and depprressed. It feel in my heart. Thank you.

    -Shanamabad Jehru-Al Kazeer

  10. Rez says:

    I too was under the impression that this was going to be another one of Shel’s silly, side-splitting poems, but boy was i wrong. This has got to be one of the most amazing sad poems i’ve read in a while. The incomparable Shel has done it once again. 🙂

  11. katie says:

    This poem is very sad, and I think that it makes me feel motivated to treat people kindly, especially when they are vulnerable.

  12. John says:

    This poem greatly moved me. I think the sexual innuendos were perhaps TOO blatant at times though.

  13. cylvie107 says:

    This is such a sad poem. But really, those of you who are talking about how you cried and all are really reading, VERY deep. I think it’s mostly just ironic. But who am i to speak? I didn’t write it. This is just my personal opinion

  14. The Super N's says:

    I think this poem is very, very sad. I mean I started to cry and people who work with me had to ride in a boat (so many tears) I mean I am a clown for a living. Don’t make much pay and live in a dump, but this story reminds everyone that clowns matter too and they have feelings just like other humans. I mean not all clowns are as funny as me, but this is horrible, WOW!!!! I can’t say anymore. Clowns here at Sea’s Open Circus unite and are very happy with our jobs and with our family. Over and Out Cya!!! Bye the way, come 2 my circus and get a free water!! Love Ya!!!!!

  15. Heather Edwards says:

    i thought that was going to be a funny poem but it turns out to be really sad tramendes things happened

  16. Allie says:

    Those of you who said this poem is funny need to reread. It’s not funny at ALL. It’s heartbreaking!

  17. Megan says:

    That poem was really funny!!!!!! it made me lol (laph out loud) well i g2g (got to go!)

  18. sarah says:

    that was cool i really really liked it it was funny and sad lol (laugh out loud)
    so yea

    • Bava says:

      Poem is a caricature on public attitudes. It depicts the conflicts in life of ordinary people and the disconnct we feel with society.
      It made me cry.

  19. amberli says:

    I almost cried when I read this poem. It makes me so sad to hear that people disregard others feelings sometimes for their own enjoyment.

  20. Carmen says:

    This poem really got my thinking cap going. Many times people laugh, carelessly handle the feelings of others, and react inappropriately to the plight of other human beings. When this happens, I wonder if the “world” is really paying attention to what is and can happen to our society – especially to the disadvantaged.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Shel Silverstein better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.