Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Floodlighting in Oxford

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When Oxford in her pristine innocence
Rose by the river, she was fresh and clean;
Only the water-meadows’ dewy sheen
Lapped at her walls and towers; no dissonance
Of screaming tyres and engines broke the immense
Quads’ quiet.  Her citizens had seen
No bus or taxi; on the daisied green
Their only Morris was the morris dance.
But they saw not, as we see, Magdalen tower
Frail as a chinese lantern, light as air,
Tossed on the night sky like a golden flower,
Moth-soft and bubble-blown; nor, tongued like fire,
Spear-sharp and silver, infinitely fair,
The flaming candle of Saint Mary’s spire.

Oxford Times, 10 August 1962
The Dancing Dust and other poems, 1983