A substance that is present in the air. It collects on everything. Dust has an interesting property that has baffled scientists for billions and billions of years: It is white on black surfaces, and black on white surfaces. This makes the life of a homemaker less boring.

1. To take all or most of one's money. 2. To move on; to leave. 3. To become a fugitive from justice; to run away. "Three lifers dusted that can (prison) yesterday."

- american underworld dictionary - 1950
In the Babylon 5 universe, Dust is an illegal drug that causes its user to have the normally dormant "telepath gene" temporarily activated. This allows them to poke around in other people's minds much like normal telepaths. The process is very traumatic for the person being violated, temporarily resulting in insanity, hallucinations and other psychotropic effects.  Mundanes usually recover from this experience within a day or two, but if a telepath is violated in this fashion, they almost never recover--they stay insane for the rest of their lives (it is never explained quite why this only occurs to telepaths).  

G'Kar used dust to enter Londo's mind once, in the third season episode Dust to Dust, and was incarcerated in the station's brig for a while as punishment. By poking around Londo's head, G'Kar was able to find out  about Mollari's connection to the Shadows and his true role in the corruption of the Centauri Republic.  Kosh also used G'Kar's altered state of mind to give him an artifical revelation concerning his role in things to come, resulting in G'Kar becoming more spiritual and philosophic as the series progressed forward.

We also find out that Dust was actually developed by the Psi Corps to try to turn mundanes into telepaths, but it failed miserably and did not produce one converted telepath of any appreciable strength.  The Corps keeps it on the market in the hopes that it will eventually work on someone.

The first published book by the popular English poet Rupert Brooke came out in 1911, under the unpretentious title Poems. Among its contents was the rather prophetic, slightly melancholy, and yet hauntingly beautiful love poem "Dust," believed to have been written between December of 1909 and March of 1910.

It is prophetic because the narrative of the poem begins after the narrator's death, much like the greatest heights of Rupert Brooke's own fame and popularity occurred after the poet's untimely death. This narrative choice also gives the poem its melancholy tone, and much of its beauty. A reader inclined to be critical can surely find flaws in it, but in my opinion, its imagery is sufficiently powerful to transcend any such weaknesses.

The first two stanzas of "Dust" might seem oddly familiar to many readers. These lines were adopted wholesale, with no changes and only some slight repetition, into a song recorded by Fleetwood Mac and released on their 1972 album, Bare Trees. They even kept the same title, although I cannot not find any credit given to Rupert Brooke in my copy of the CD insert booklet. "Dust" is the second-to-last track on Bare Trees, serving as an admirable and illuminating companion to the spoken word poem that closes the album, Mrs. Scarrot's Thoughts on a Grey Day.

Before reading any more of my commentary, the reader might prefer to peruse the poem itself, so here it is:


When the white flame in us is gone,
And we that lost the world's delight
Stiffen in darkness, left alone
To crumble in our separate night;

When your swift hair is quiet in death,
And through the lips corruption thrust
Has stilled the labour of my breath -
When we are dust, when we are dust!

Not dead, not undesirous yet,
Still sentient, still unsatisfied,
We'll ride the air, and shine, and flit,
Around the places where we died,

And dance as dust before the sun,
And light of foot and unconfined,
Hurry from road to road, and run
About the errands of the wind.

And every mote, on earth or air,
Will speed and gleam, down later days,
And like a secret pilgrim fare
By eager and invisible ways,

Nor ever rest, nor ever lie,
Till, beyond thinking, out of view,
One mote of all the dust that's I
Shall meet one atom that was you.

Then in some garden hush'd from wind,
Warm in a sunset's afterglow,
The lovers in the flowers will find
A sweet and strange unquiet grow

Upon the peace; and, past desiring,
So high a beauty in the air,
And such a light, and such a quiring,
And such a radiant ecstasy there,

They'll know not if it's fire, or dew,
Or out of earth, or in the height,
Singing, or flame, or scent, or hue,
Or two that pass, in light, to light,

Out of the garden, higher, higher. . . .
But in that instant they shall learn
The shattering ecstasy of our fire,
And the weak passionless hearts will burn

And faint in that amazing glow,
Until the darkness close above;
And they will know - poor fools, they'll know!
One moment, what it is to love.


It was only after several readings that I was able to look past my entrancement with Brooke's verses to offer any meaningful critique. Even now, all I can muster is that some of the rhyme choices might sound odd to a reader's ear today. These still fail to distract me from enjoying his artistry when I read it without looking for such "flaws."

By the time it reaches its conclusion, "Dust" completely transcends its melancholy opening, transforming death itself into a joyously luminous celebration.

Even for the reader not inclined to belief in any form of supernatural afterlife, there is a prophetic element in these words, for the poems of Rupert Brooke, long after his death, still carry the mysterious power to shed new light on love in millions of readers' minds and hearts.

Sources and additional information:

The Rupert Brooke Society:


She lives off the land
Lives simply from her hand
Acres and acres from her window she can see
Forces a smile, but secretly she
Is saddened and forlorn. She sits and she stares
At the missing guitar, trombone, and drum snare
The dusty seats where she plays alone
Her empty band
This is her home

She lives through her days, filled with dust
Her old bicycle brittle, a frame of rust
Acres and acres from her window she can see
Miles and miles, but secretly she
Looks because she's searching. For someone there
To play the guitar, trombone, drum snare
Excite the dust particles from their ways
Play in her empty band
For days upon days

"Dust" is the twelfth episode of the second season of The Twilight Zone, and was first broadcast in January of 1961. It starred John Alonzo as soon-to-be-executed criminal Luis Gallegos, John Larch as the Sheriff holding him in custody, Thomas Gomez as unscrupulous peddler Sykes, and Vladimir Sokoloff as Luis' father. John Alonzo had only a short career as an actor, but later became famous as the cinematographer on such films as Chinatown and Scarface.

In an impoverished southwestern town in the Old West, Luis Gallegos is in jail, waiting for his execution. While drunk, he ran over a young girl with a wagon. Peddler Sykes, who sold the rope for his hanging, stops by to taunt him in his jail cell, until the Sheriff, who is ambivalent about the entire affair, drives him off. Gallegos' father pleads with the parents of the dead girl to spare his son's life, but gets no response. Taking advantage of his desperation, Sykes offers him some "magic dust" that will change the townspeople's hate to love. Can even fraudulent magic save a condemned man and change people's minds?

This episode had a lot going for it, and the concepts and personalities could have been carried well beyond 22 minutes. Along with the concepts of mercy and forgiveness, there is a subtext of social justice: the vengefullness that the townspeople feel towards Gallegos is hinted at being because of his ethnicity. The life of this town, and the motivations of the characters, is something that could have been stretched out to the length of a feature movie.

I also find it interesting that we have seen some of the aspects of this episode before: a western town with a peddler in "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" and a western town with an execution in "The Execution". But while both of those episodes were cheesy and mined the mythology of westerns in an obvious way, this episode takes a very different tack. This is one of the more realistic Twilight Zone epsidoes I have seen, and just the sight of Sykes' stubble is enough to set a gritty mood. The variety of ways The Twilight Zone can take a theme is always interesting, and it seems that as the series established its popularity, it was able to subvert expectations more and more.

Dust (?), n. [AS. dust; cf. LG. dust, D. duist meal dust, OD. doest, donst, and G. dunst vapor, OHG. tunist, dunist, a blowing, wind, Icel. dust dust, Dan. dyst mill dust; perh. akin to L. fumus smoke, E. fume. .]


Fine, dry particles of earth or other matter, so comminuted that they may be raised and wafted by the wind; that which is crumbled to minute portions; fine powder; as, clouds of dust; bone dust.

Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Gen. iii. 19.

Stop! -- for thy tread is on an empire's dust. Byron.


A single particle of earth or other matter.

[R.] "To touch a dust of England's ground."



The earth, as the resting place of the dead.

For now shall sleep in the dust. Job vii. 21.


The earthy remains of bodies once alive; the remains of the human body.

And you may carve a shrine about my dust. Tennyson.


Figuratively, a worthless thing.

And by the merit of vile gold, dross, dust. Shak.


Figuratively, a low or mean condition.

[God] raiseth up the poor out of the dust. 1 Sam. ii. 8.


Gold dust

; hence: (Slang)

Coined money; cash.

Down with the dust, deposit the cash; pay down the money. [Slang] "My lord, quoth the king, presently deposit your hundred pounds in gold, or else no going hence all the days of your life. . . . The Abbot down with his dust, and glad he escaped so, returned to Reading." Fuller. -- Dust brand Bot., a fungous plant (Ustilago Carbo); -- called also smut. -- Gold dust, fine particles of gold, such as are obtained in placer mining; -- often used as money, being transferred by weight. -- In dust and ashes. See under Ashes. -- To bite the dust. See under Bite, v. t. -- To raise, ∨ kick up, dust, to make a commotion. [Colloq.] -- To throw dust in one's eyes, to mislead; to deceive. [Colloq.]


© Webster 1913.

Dust (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Dusted; p. pr. & vb. n. Dusting.]


To free from dust; to brush, wipe, or sweep away dust from; as, to dust a table or a floor.


To sprinkle with dust.


To reduce to a fine powder; to levigate.


To dyst one's jacket, to give one a flogging. [Slang.]


© Webster 1913.

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