Song of the Stage Hands

Song of the Stage Hands

by Sir Alan Herbert

We work in the wings at various things
That nobody sees from the stalls:
You don’t think of us unless there’s a fuss
And bits of the scenery falls.
But what would be seen of the old Fairy Queen
If the Palace came down on her head?
The actors may bark: but if they’re in the dark
It don’t matter what Shakespeare said.

It’s the same thing wherever you go:
The bloke in the front gets the show.
But where would he be if it wasn’t for we –
Working away in the wings?

It looks all serene: you see a new scene –
From the bed-chamber, say to the yacht.
But you’d change your mind
If you came round behind
And saw what a job we have got.
We lower the mast but the damn thing sticks fast:
The rigging is foul of the punt.
We push houses round, but we mayn’t make a sound,
For the hero’s proposing in front
And then, when we change to the wood
With the moon coming up as it should,
Well, give us a hand, the invisible band
Working away in the wings.

But still we’re all proud we’re one of the crowd
That’s pulling the jolly old strings:
For, bless you, we know we’re as much in the show
As the fellow who dances or sings.
We’ve got no bouquets, and they don’ wait for days
To see us come out of the door.
We can’ write a play, but if we go away
There won’ be no plays any more.
But there – though we bark we don’ bite:
It’ll be right on the night.
Enjoy yourselves, do: for we’ll see you through
Working away in the wings.

January 28th 1948

Originally posted to by Lynda McLean