My mother saw a dancing bear
By the schoolyard, a day in June,
The keeper stood with chain and bar
And whistle-pipe, and played a tune.
And bruin lifted up its head
And lifted up its dusty feet,
And all the children laughed to see
It caper in the summer heat.
They watched as for the Queen it died.
They watched it marched. They watched it halt.
They heard the keeper as he cried,
"Now, roly-poly!" "Somersault!"
And then, my mother said, there came
The keeper with a begging-cup,
The bear with burning coat of fur,
Shaming the laughter to a stop.
They paid a penny for the dance,
But what they saw was not the show;
Only, in bruin's aching eyes,
Far-distant forests, and the snow.