Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Romanesque
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The pilgrims are shuffling the chevet,
All suddenly solemn
In spite of the crowd, the corralling lay brothers,
The route’s camaraderie
And the blind man’s dog, irreverently lifting a leg
Against a column.

Some have friends who dress stone, but that cannot explain
The miraculous spires,
And their heads know that monks in shadowed side chapels
Sing gradual and antiphon,
But they feel the frisson of unearthly sound, and hearts know
They are angels’ choirs.

Darkness of blind arcades, roof lost in shadows,
And scarcely glimmering
Pinpricks of brightness from clerestory windows
And small struggling candles,
Then, under the lantern explosion of light
And the saint’s casket shimmering,

Silver and gold and champlevé depicting
The holy man’s history,
The glittering reliquary its own major miracles:
Small wonder the bones
Encased in such splendour can marvellously work
Magic and mystery.

I conjure the church as it was, brilliant with paint,
Gaudy with gildings,
But fail, as my eyes grasp only the stones and the structure
Of pier, arch and groyne,
So I write of these things in a metre of Thomas Hardy,
Who understood buildings.


Undated