Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Otmoor evening

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The Royal Artillery has the evening off
Tuesdays and Thursdays, then the lieutenant-colonel
Lets in the wellies and binoculars.
Over squelched tussocks, above the drowsing cattle
Snipe last-post the day;
Here, in impenetrable hedgerows centuries wide
The nightingales sing and sing.

A poet has no scope with nightingales:
Crowded and sharply elbowed by young Keats,
Sweeney, Agamemnon, old Uncle Tom Eliot and all,
Haunted by glories and banalities,
Nothing left to say.
Yet, ringed by seven church towers, hugely skyed,
The nightingales sing and sing.

They sing for territory, for tomorrow,
Not for love, not for us, not for fame;
But we hear the immemorial enmeshed entrancement,
The dance, the linked hands,
The reminding game.