Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Swan song

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In December dusk the wild swans came to the mere
Suddenly white from dark-sky, webs braced, wings fanning,
And a father said to his child ‘See the swans, dear,
Touch down on the water like aeroplanes making a landing.’

When Icarus stitched his feathers he thought ‘like a bird’,
And they thought ‘like a bird’ whoever saw him soar sunward;
Leonardo drew wings, measured and marked like a bird,
Knew man could fly hawk-like, stork-like upward and onward.

And when in full time Orville Wright coaxed clumsy flimsy
Match-stick, oiled-silk and gluey contraption air-borne,
The gaping crowds groped for the wholly inadequate simile
And cried ‘Like a bird! Man and machine like a swan!’

Does time bring in his revenges?  So do words, and lies
And nature abused: clench your ears, your heart and your fist
While the metaphor roars across our shattered skies
And the prototype slips silently into the mist.

The Dancing Dust and other poems, 1983