Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

North Oxford auction
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Poor crumbling, yellow, long-loved house,
Your chipped slates scarcely water-tight,
Your wrought-iron spikes on gable-ends
Like fireworks fossilized in flight;

Today’s guests troop from room to room,
Soiling your shabby rugs with gravel,
And watch your doubtful treasures fall
Beneath the unsentimental gavel:

Books, bric-à-brac, Benares ware,
Arundel prints and antique chests,
And there the battered nursery guard
Where Nanny used to air the vests.

Nine rusty bells on basement wall
Ring phantom chimes from spacious days,
And hark! ― upon the murky stairs
The ghostly creak of housemaids’ stays.

Now goffered apron, streamered cap
Forgotten fade; ― the hammer’s down,
And hip-bath and hot-water can
Are gone for good for half-a-crown.


Oxford Times, 20 April 1962
The Dancing Dust and other poems, 1983