Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

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What are you doing here, you bright wild stranger,
Elegant aristocrat in a gaggle of louts,
Stream-lined as an Arab steed among Suffolk punches,
Or an old Etonian dossing with rustic clouts?
O elegant aristocrat in a gaggle of clods,
Why flock with fat fools when you can fly with the gods?

Does it not draw you, the far Siberian steppe-land
Where your kindred have darkened the marshes age upon age?
Your vulgar associates here see no more than a beak’s length
And deservedly end in conjunction with onions and sage.
O elegant aristocrat in a gaggle of clods,
Why flock with fat fools when you can fly with the gods?

Open your shell-pink bill and sound your clarion,
Stretch your serpentine neck, shake out your bar-rippled wings,
Leave your pinioned companions to quarter their Wolvercote farmyard;
Thames for the tame ― but the north is the country of kings.
O elegant aristocrat in a gaggle of clods,
Why flock with fat fools when you can fly with the gods?

In your mind’s ear do you not hear the music,
Trisyllable babble of all those myriad others
Grazing the infinite waste of the grey-gold tundra? ―
Stop being a goose, little goose, and go to your brothers.
O elegant aristocrat in a gaggle of clods,
Why flock with fat fools when you can fly with the gods?


For several weeks in the spring of 1965 a wild white-fronted goose remained feeding with domestic geese on Port Meadow after the small flock of its own kind which were there in January left for their arctic breeding grounds.

Oxford Times, 26 March 1965
The Dancing Dust and other poems, 1983