Dust by Sydney King Russell


Agatha Morley
All her life
Grumbled at dust
Like a good wife.

Dust on a table,
Dust on a chair,
Dust on a mantel
She couldn’t bear.

She forgave faults
In man and child
But a dusty shelf
Would set her wild.

She bore with sin
Without protest,
But dust thoughts preyed
Upon her rest.

Agatha Morley
Is sleeping sound
Six feet under
The mouldy ground.

Six feet under
The earth she lies
With dust at her feet
And dust in her eyes.

-Sydney King Russell

Borrowed from Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle

12 thoughts on “Dust by Sydney King Russell

  1. jude

    I have been looking for this poem for the last 39yrs. I remembered her name and dust and that was it. I came upon your site by googling the two things I knew. I did that years ago but to no avail. Thank you very much. jude

      1. Ray Soden

        I’m with Jude. I first heard this poem as part of a collection of spooky poetry on a 45 RPM record that I got from the Scholastic Book Club, like, 40 years ago. The vinyl is long gone, but Agatha has stuck with me. I have always remembered the poem imperfectly, and am very happy to find it on-line. A young friend of mine, a couple years ago, said, “There is no excuse for ignorance when information is literally a fingertip away”. So, I finally Googled it. Presto. Ah, the wonders of our modern age.

  2. Luke

    I am currently doing an analysis on this poem for my LIT2000 class and was wondering if you knew of any sites that I could obtain quotes from other reviews? This is one hard poem to find material on. Thanks.

  3. I still hear my mother’s voice reciting this poem. She was a nursery school teacher, and as she progressed with Alzheimer’s disease (and most of her adult life, in moments) all these poems and songs came out. I think they were the last thing to go. So I treasure them, and I thank you for helping me find all the words to this gem!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’m so happy to have helped you. This poem, and other favorites, from the Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle book are some of my earliest treasured memories. It’s so nice to share them with others.

    1. Hi Harry. I guess the meaning is pretty much that Agatha Morley concentrated on the wrong things during her life (namely dust/dirt) and is now dead and totally covered and surrounded by the very thing that she spent her life (in vain) trying to avoid.

  4. C.Bradley Guest

    Read this in the fourth grade and did something of a report on it, trying to explain the underlying message, and the irony of this poem to my fellow classmates was difficult, and while it earned me praise from our teacher, the kids thought I was just weird….

  5. Kathryn B. Reese

    “Reflections on the Gift of a Watermelon Pickle” is one of my most treasured
    books! I know Agatha Morley and several other poems by heart. What a wonderful poem.

  6. Frank S Dowd

    I recited this poem in my 5th grade class in 1969. I never forgot it. I found it in a collection of Halloween poems and story’s in a book I purchased at school. I wish I had kept that book. It not only did include some great material it was also well illustrated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s