Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Freshman's alchemy
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In High street is a chemist’s shop,
And in the window, at the top,
Great phials of brilliant liquid glow
Like giant jewels in a row.
In these round glass convexities
The passer-by reflected sees
This dear, familiar, learned town
In technicolour upside down.
Drowned in bright liquor, gleaming red,
Is Brasenose standing on its head,
While All Saints’ spire, neatly reversed,
As a fly in amber is immersed.
Symbolic this of Michaelmas,
When every eager freshman has
Rose-coloured spectacles to view
This ancient place, to him so new.
We’ve scarce enjoyed our breathing-space
When in he strides to take his place ―
Young head, young heart, new cap, new gown ―
And turns our city upside down.


Oxford Times, 20 October 1967
The Dancing Dust and other poems, 1983