Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Keeper of the keys

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Here are dizzying shelves of words upon words upon words
Where was once preached the Word,
And ideas trickle endlessly into the mind through black print
Where ears only heard.

An age before Caxton was born the simple stood here,
Saw crude doom on the walls,
But the torturing devil is faded and dead now, demoted
By Dewey decimals.

Down in the heavy-groined crypt among shadowy pillars
They gaped at raw relics ―
Bone, blood, hank of hair, as now at the mysteries clapped
Between foreword and finis.

How much nearer to ultimate truth than twelfth-century man
Is the up-to-date gaper?
Shall we know in those dread postdiluvian days
When we all are drowned deep,
Fathoms deep,
In a deluge of paper?

In 1969-70, the ancient church of St. Peter in the East, Oxford was converted into a library for St. Edmund Hall.

Oxford Times, 11 April 1969
The Dancing Dust and other poems, 1983