Dutton, Geoffrey

Australia, (1922-1988)

The Most Beautiful Rubbish Dump in the World

  1. By a mountaintop on the most beautiful of Greek islands
  2. A ruined Italian fort gazes through slit eyes
  3. On Byzantine ruins on the Greek acropolis with Crusader walls
  4. Over the bare village whiter than bones
  5. Stacked down to the fishing boat harbour, the blue-deep bay.
  6. On the other side of the mountain, watched over by the fort
  7. That has slits in the back of its head,
  8. Is another bay, blue to distant peaks grey as goddess’ eyes.
  9. And sliding down the mountain, contained at last
  10. By ancient walls, scented with sage, exploding with poppies,
  11. Is the most beautiful rubbish dump in the world.
  12. Between rusty Sunfix tins and broken Beckbier bottles
  13. Lives a rollicking family of seven slack-eared pigs
  14. Rooting out orange-halves, uncurling dolmades, octopus tentacles,
  15. Their trotters warm from smoke seeping out of the lava
  16. Of cardboard and wigs of woodwool on statues of mother rock.
  17. The fort is the ruins of war, the dump the ruins of peace,
  18. Columns, arches and embrasures the ruins of time,
  19. But the pigs–Ah! the pigs are not ruined at all,
  20. Clean as the village walls, with only a touch of manage,
  21. Belly-deep in the slush of life, and the jolliest piglet
  22. Frisking around the tolerant old reclining boar,
  23. His back to the honey-gold sunfilled wall,
  24. Comfortable as Kleovoulas of Lindos,
  25. Or that visitor, Richard the Lion-Hearted,
  26. Or Foulques de Villaret, Grand Master of St. John.
  27. And as for his three feeding sows,
  28. None will die for vengeance, or so slowly
  29. As Helen of Troy, hung by a furious widow queen
  30. From that olive tree across the drowsing bay.

 Geoffrey Dutton. A Body of Words. Sydney: Edwards and Shaw (1977).

White Cyclamen

  1. White cyclamen with fifteen flowers
  2. I am writing you a poem because you make me think of love.
  3. You are a concentration of curves,
  4. You lift to open and you plunge at full
  5. And droop when dry.
  6. Put out at nighttime like the cat
  7. You also respond to stars.
  8. Your Greek name grew from encircling
  9. Like the Cyclades which encircle Delos,
  10. But beware of too much poetry.
  11. Your old English name is ‘sowbread’
  12. For your fleshy tuberous rootstocks
  13. Are much sought after and enjoyed by swine.
  14. And your flowers are white, of course, and bulge,
  15. Demure, downcast, like many a pregnant bride.

 Geoffrey Dutton. New and Selected Poems. Sydney: Angus and Robertson (1993).

About the Poet:

Geoffrey Piers Henry Dutton, Australia, (1922-1988), was a poet and established himself in Australian literary life as a prolific and influential writer, editor, critic and book reviewer.

He began school at the University of Adelaide, Dutton studied English, history and French and developed an interest in modern and avant garde literature. After the war and service in the Royal Australian Air Force, Dutton was accepted into Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied English Literature under C.S. Lewis, among others.

In 1956 Dutton took up a lectureship at the University of Adelaide and enjoyed a long and prolific academic, editorial and publishing career. [DES-11/17]

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