Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

The modern  undergraduate
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My friend preferred a College room with panels linenfold,
But his feet are red with chilblains and he's always got a cold;
Now, I  imbibed good sense with mothers milk and Doctor Spock,
And I chose a modern study in the steel and concrete block.
O tempora, O mores!

My friend has death watch beetle, which isn't very nice,
And his beams are full of woodworm and his wainscots full of mice,
And saints and worthies lived there once — my friend can name a host;
But my  clean room is undisturbed by either beast or ghost.
O tempora, O mores!

My friend's disgusted with me — he says I ought to feel
That Oxford has an ethos unlike Manchester or Keele;
But ethos doesn't keep out draughts, and, frankly, while I'm here,
I'll enjoy my Oxford ethos in a redbrick atmosphere.
O tempora, O mores!

So I live in the present and my friend lives in the past,
And we've both a sneaking feeling even that's too good to last:
If overcrowding gets much worse we'll all be in pre-fabs —
But those at least are likely to be lovlier than the labs.
O tempora, O mores!


Oxford Times (undated)