Someone sent me this nifty poem — titled “Dust If You Must” — via the Internet with the following information:

The poem  was attributed to Mrs. Rose Milligan from Lancaster in Lancashire, England. It was first published in the Sept. 15th, 21st edition, of The Lady (magazine) in 1998.

I loved it from the get-go and got permission via e-mail to and from England to run it in A Study of Words. So here it is:


Dust if you must

But wouldn’t it be better?

To paint a picture, or write a letter,

Bake a cake, or plant a seed?

Ponder the difference between want and need.


Dust if you must

But there is not much time

With rivers to swim and mountains to climb!

Music to hear, and books to read,

Friends to cherish, and life to lead.


Dust if you must,

But the world is out there

With the sun in your eyes,

The wind in your hair,

A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,

This day will not come round again.


Dust if you must,

But bear in mind,

Old age will come and it’s not kind.

And when you go, and go you must,

You, yourself will make more dust.


This poem came to me on facebook, and somehow I lost the name of the person who sent it to me. Please identify yourself, so I can thank you.

This poem has inspired me to include my own attempt at poetry, years ago.

It is titled “Different.”


Day is day, and night is night.

Black is black, and white is white.

False is false, and true is true.

I am me, and you are you.

Send in your poem to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . I will run it if approved by the editorial board of The Opelika Observer. ******************

Now for one of my favorite studies: Studying “Place Names in Alabama” by Virginia O. Foscue, who was a professor in the English Department at The University of Alabama. I think I bought this paperback  years ago at a garage sale in Auburn. The copyright date is 1989 byThe University of Alabama Press.

After a few studies you may understand that naming towns was not a science:

ARAB A town in Marshall County that received its name when post office officials mistook the hand written d for a b in the application for a post office to be named Arad for the son of the first postmaster. Locals pronounced it Arab with the accent on the A.

AUBURN Lizzie Taylor, the fiancee of Thomas Harper, son of one of the town’s founders, suggested the name after reading Oliver Goldsmith’s poem, “The Deserted Village.” (That’s what was the title in the book.)

BALLPLAY Settlement with discontinued post office in Etowah County. Name is said to be the name of the designation of a sport of Indians living here in prehistoric times.

OPELIKA The name Opelikan was recorded when the town was founded in the 1830s. Was respelled as Opelika in 1850, the name of an upper creek town in Coosa Creek, whose designation means “big swamp,” from Creek opilwa (swamp)and lako (big).

SAUGAHATCHEE CREEK Stream rising in Chambers County and flowing into the Tallapoosa River. In Benjamin Hawkins’ “A Sketch of the Creek Country in 1798 and 1799.” Name means Rattle Creek, from Creek sauga (a rattle gourd) and hachi (creek).

Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at