Duffy, Carol Ann

Scottland, (b. 1955)


  1. I’m fond, nereids and nymphs, unlike some, of the pig,
  2. of the tusker, the snout, the boar and the swine.
  3. One way or another, all pigs have been mine –
  4. under my thumb, the bristling, salty skin of their backs,
  5. in my nostrils here, their yobby, porky colognes.
  6. I’m familiar with hogs and runts, their percussion of oinks
  7. and grunts, their squeals. I’ve stood with a pail of swill
  8. at dusk, at the creaky gate of the sty,
  9. tasting the sweaty, spicy air, the moon
  10. like a lemon popped in the mouth of the sky.
  11. But I want to begin with a recipe from abroad
  13. which uses the cheek – and the tongue in cheek
  14. at that. Lay two pig’s cheeks, with the tongue,
  15. in a dish, and strew it well over with salt
  16. and cloves. Remember the skills of the tongue –
  17. to lick, to lap, to loosen, lubricate, to lie
  18. in the soft pouch of the face – and how each pig’s face
  19. was uniquely itself, as many handsome as plain,
  20. the cowardly face, the brave, the comical, noble,
  21. sly or wise, the cruel, the kinds, but all of them,
  22. nymphs, with those piggy eyes. Season with mace.
  24. Well-cleaned pig’s ears should be blanched, singed, tossed
  25. in a pot, boiled, kept hot, scraped, served, garnished
  26. with thyme. Look at that simmering lug, at that ear,
  27. did it listen, ever, to you, to your prayers and rhymes,
  28. to the chimes of your voice, singing and clear? Mash
  29. the potatoes, nymph, open the beer. Now to the brains,
  30. to the trotters, shoulders, chops, to the sweetmeats slipped
  31. from the slit, bulging, vulnerable bag of the balls.
  32. When the heart of a pig has hardened, dice it small.
  34. Dice it small. I, too, once knelt on this shining shore
  35. watching the tall ships sail from the burning sun
  36. like myths; slipped off my dress to wade,
  37. breast-deep, in the sea, waving and calling;
  38. then plunged, then swam on my back, looking up
  39. as three black ships sighed in the shallow waves.
  40. Of course, I was younger then. And hoping for men. Now,
  41. let us baste that sizzling pig on the spit once again.

© Carol Ann Duffy. The World’s Wife. Faber and Faber, (1999).


  1. Into the half-pound box of Moonlight
  2. my small hand crept.
  3. There was an electrifying rustle.
  4. There was a dark and glamorous scent.
  5. In my open, moist mouth
  6. the first Montelimar went.
  8. Down in the crinkly second layer,
  9. five finger-piglets snuffled
  10. among the Hazelnut Whirl,
  11. the Caramel Square,
  12. the Black Cherry and Almond Truffle.
  14. Bliss.
  16. I chomped. I gorged.
  17. I stuffed my face,
  18. till only the Coffee Cream
  19. was left for the owner of the box —
  20. tough luck, Anne Pope —
  21. oh, and half an Orange Supreme.

© Carol Ann Duffy from the anthology:
Five Finger-Piglets. Peter Bailey; Brian Patten; Carol Ann Duffy; et al. London: Macmillan Children’s, (1999).

About the Poet

Carol Ann Duffy, (b. 1955) is a Scottish poet and playwright. Duffy received an honours degree in philosophy in 1977 from the University of Liverpool. She worked as poetry critic for The Guardian from 1988–1989, and was editor of the poetry magazine, Ambit. In 1996, she was appointed as a lecturer in poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and later became creative director of its Writing School.

Duffy is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in 2009. Duffy is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly bisexual person to hold the position, as well as the first laureate to be chosen in the 21st century. Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence. [condensed from Wikipedia, DES-11/10]

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.