Isn't it rich?
Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground,
You in mid-air,
Where are the clowns?

Isn't it bliss?
Don't you approve?
One who keeps tearing around,
One who can't move,
Where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns?

Just when I'd stopped opening doors,
Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours
Making my entrance again with my usual flair
Sure of my lines
No one is there

Don't you love farce?
My fault, I fear
I thought that you'd want what I want
Sorry, my dear!
But where are the clowns
Send in the clowns
Don't bother, they're here

Isn't it rich?
Isn't it queer?
Losing my timing this late in my career
But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns
Well, maybe next year

Lyrics submitted by LuckyWilshire, edited by fridgeelephant

Send In The Clowns Lyrics as written by Stephen Sondheim

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Send In the Clowns song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +10
    Song Meaning

    Sondheim wrote this song for a character named Desiree in his musical "A Little Night Music." Desiree is an actress approaching fifty. She spent her younger years "tearing around" with a bunch of men and never actually settled down. One of the men was Fredrik, who wanted a committed relationship from her when they were younger. He truly loved her. She turned down his proposal because she was not yet ready to be "on the ground."

    Years later, they find each other. Fredrik has a very young and very beautiful (but very naive) wife. Desiree decides that she is going to seduce him and win him back because she is finally ready to give up all of her little affairs and settle down. She invites him to her mother's enormous estate in the country.

    Much to her dismay, when she asks him if he will share with her a "coherent existence after so many years of muddle," he actually says no. He loves Desiree when his eyes are open, but when his eyes are not open -- which is most of the time -- he loves his young wife.

    "Send in the Clowns" is Desiree's response to this rejection. She is disgusted with herself for having turned down his overtures when she was younger, but she is also bemused by the absurd irony. Since she is a person of the theater, she is used to having comedic moments (clowns) sent in to save a show that is failing. She says "send in the clowns" because she feels that the situation is so devastating and ridiculous that "there ought to be clowns." But there are already clowns -- She and Fredrik are the clowns; the fools. After she sings "Don't bother -- they're here," Fredrik apologizes to her and leaves the room.

    She sings the last verse to herself. She is laughing at herself and crying for herself at the same time. Desiree, the "one who keeps tearing around," has lost her youthful mask.

    viceprincipalguptaon January 22, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This song is about a relationship in which she thought she'd found what she had been looking for, but the other person did not have the same feelings for her. This is a sad song, but she mocks her own naivity in the lyrics "Quick send in the clowns, don't bother they're here". In other words she's been made a fool of by love.

    tsllimiton March 21, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Someone wanted to marry her, but she was too busy having fun - not wanting to settle down. Now she is tired of bouncing around and realizes that he was what she wanted all along. But while she was gliding around on the edge of real life, he got tired of waiting and got on with his own life - there is no room for her in it anymore.

    The hinting of a circus analogy is perfect - I picture the trapeze artist above it all in her own world, leaving the people on the ground behind in her search for new thrills. Then the high flyer grows weary of being up there alone and finally comes down looking for company, only to find that the one who has been waiting for her on the ground has flown away himself. All the while the clowns are back stage ready to rush out and save the show when someone falls.

    megalonzergon June 09, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    this song is from the musical "a little night music," by Stephen Sondheim. google it- some interesting stuff pops up. sad song, but so great.

    duckymegon June 16, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    A certain someone is always there for her, but she's too busy doing her own thing. He's been there for her, but when she finally realises that she loves him - he's not there, he's moved on. And she's (like tsllimit said) a fool and feels it even more so because she assumed he would be there.

    A very moving and emotional song. My favourite by Judy Collins.

    elizavetaon February 14, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Basically, the singer is saying that her love life is in shambles, and to cover it up she uses the metaphor of clowns. Years ago, in the circus, if someone fell off the trapeze or tightrope, they would hurriedly send in the clowns to cover up the mess and get everyone laughing again. There is a reference to this sort of tragedy in the first strophe: "me here at last on the ground/ you in mid-air." We can take from this that she has already fallen, and he is quickly falling behind her. So, to cover up this tragic love affair, "sending in the clowns" masks the despondency of the situation.

    Capriccioon November 24, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I was planning on linking the lyrics to this song so I searched on the web and here on my favourite lyrics site. The web led me to some rather in depth info and interviews the Stephen Sondheim, the writer of the song for the original musical:

    Right now the sad side of this song resonates with parts of my life... but there is a wistful and self-deprecating humour to it that is not hopeless to me at all.

    dreamorphon January 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    thanks for the new information

    quilceneon October 31, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My Opinion

    And is it not ironic that he too is the clown for trying to hold onto his past youth with such a very young and very naive(as was Desiree) bride.And thats that!

    Morbiuson August 11, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    we are all fools clowns trancend tragedy do the work and turn it into comedy

    humor is the best medicine

    puddlydon September 03, 2012   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Love in a Vacuum
'Til Tuesday
Well, in my opinion this song is about being a young & maybe a little naive &/or introverted girl and finding yourself loving a man who is at first very charming, carefree & outgoing, and seems at first to be without limits, as in "There was a time you opened up every doorway you didn't mind if everything wasn't your way" then that man starts to gradually become more introverted & shows their more possessive/obsessive side to you as the relationship progresses, even while they keep up the appearance of being carefree & outgoing to everyone else, "Don't pull away that goes against what you told me I look in your eyes I realize what you've sold me is love in a vacuum" so you confront them about the way they're acting and of course they deny it, "I think you've changed but you insist that that's not true" quite possibly they are an addict of some sort, my guess would be cocaine, &/or showing very obsessive behavior towards you (early on in the video for this song we see the man hanging a picture up, it is a very large portrait of Aimee & it is prominently displayed in his/their apartment for the duration of the song), thus their "love in a vacuum", "You look so strange, so distant that you're hardly you Now I can see how you have been acting different You say it's me but I know that it isn't it's love in a vacuum" but still you are in love with them and don't want to leave them and you know that they are truly in love with you and they don't want you to leave them either, maybe they are convinced you can save them from themself, maybe they are so broken that the possibility of an overdose &/or suicide attempt is very real and you want to get through to them that their behavior not only dangerous but it is also just pissing you off and if they don't wise up they run the risk of loosing you, as in the lines "You will be lonely if you leave me alone", so you want to save them but can't get through to them due to the addiction &/or emotional problems they have, "Love in a vacuum and that's not enough love in a vacuum You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way You will be lonely if you leave me alone You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way it's just not enough" you want them to understand that the love they are giving you is not enough when it is filtered through the vacuum of their drug addiction &/or emotional impairment, "You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way it's just not enough and just wait you will be lonely Love in a vacuum Love in a vacuum and that's not enough Love in a vacuum". 'Love In A Vacuum' for me is a hauntingly truthful acute argument on the loneliness of obsession and almost inevitable loss of love that follows people who are broken in some way or another; the obsessives, the coke heads, the drunks, addicts or the just-plain-old emotionally broken; a razor sharp, lyrically driven, deceptively poppy, yet ultimately-depressing-in-the-best-way song. Quintessential Aimee Mann.
Album art
Taylor Swift
The song 'Fortnight' by Taylor Swift and Post Malone tells a story about strong feelings, complicated relationships, and secret wishes. It talks about love, betrayal, and wanting someone who doesn't feel the same. The word 'fortnight' shows short-lived happiness and guilty pleasures, leading to sadness. It shows how messy relationships can be and the results of hiding emotions. “I was supposed to be sent away / But they forgot to come and get me,” she kickstarts the song in the first verse with lines suggesting an admission to a hospital for people with mental illnesses. She goes in the verse admitting her lover is the reason why she is like this. In the chorus, she sings about their time in love and reflects on how he has now settled with someone else. “I took the miracle move-on drug, the effects were temporary / And I love you, it’s ruining my life,” on the second verse she details her struggles to forget about him and the negative effects of her failure. “Thought of callin’ ya, but you won’t pick up / ‘Nother fortnight lost in America,” Post Malone sings in the outro.
Album art
The Night We Met
Lord Huron
This is a hauntingly beautiful song about introspection, specifically about looking back at a relationship that started bad and ended so poorly, that the narrator wants to go back to the very beginning and tell himself to not even travel down that road. I believe that the relationship started poorly because of the lines: "Take me back to the night we met:When the night was full of terrors: And your eyes were filled with tears: When you had not touched me yet" So, the first night was not a great start, but the narrator pursued the relationship and eventually both overcame the rough start to fall in love with each other: "I had all and then most of you" Like many relationships that turn sour, it was not a quick decline, but a gradual one where the narrator and their partner fall out of love and gradually grow apart "Some and now none of you" Losing someone who was once everything in your world, who you could confide in, tell your secrets to, share all the most intimate parts of your life, to being strangers with that person is probably one of the most painful experiences a person can go through. So Painful, the narrator wants to go back in time and tell himself to not even pursue the relationship. This was the perfect song for "13 Reasons Why"
Album art
Mental Istid
Ebba Grön
This is one of my favorite songs.
Album art
Cajun Girl
Little Feat
Overall about difficult moments of disappointment and vulnerability. Having hope and longing, while remaining optimistic for the future. Encourages the belief that with each new morning there is a chance for things to improve. The chorus offers a glimmer of optimism and a chance at a resolution and redemption in the future. Captures the rollercoaster of emotions of feeling lost while loving someone who is not there for you, feeling let down and abandoned while waiting for a lover. Lost with no direction, "Now I'm up in the air with the rain in my hair, Nowhere to go, I can go anywhere" The bridge shows signs of longing and a plea for companionship. The Lyrics express a desire for authentic connection and the importance of Loving someone just as they are. "Just in passing, I'm not asking. That you be anyone but you”