Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Alice in Tom Quad

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On the high window-seat, nose pressed to the glass
Stands Alice Liddell, as great Tom strikes four,
Watching to see good Mr. Dodgson pass
Across the Quad to knock the Dean's front door.
The lawns below are segmented as clean
As chessboard squares, where dance a merry troop
Of lories, lobsters, mice.  The pond is green
And round and beautiful as turtle soup;
Poised in his pas de chat, young Mercury
Smiles at the Carrolling, Caucus-racing host,
Gay denizens of a new mythology.
In blood-red robe, old Thomas Wolsey's ghost
Starts at the horrid cry "Off with his head!",
And melts into his unbuilt cloister's shade:
The Cardinal, unlike the Dodo, dead,
Knows, with the Cheshire Cat, just when to fade.

But Mr. Dodgson climbs a storey higher
To tea with Alice by the nursery fire.

To mark the centenary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland, Alice's nursery on the second floor of the Deanery at Christ Church was opened to the public.

Oxford Times, 9 June 1965