Love and Complacency – Geoffrey Dutton – Analysis

Love and Complacency

At Christmas, sometimes, even for disbelievers,
Angels come slanting down across the firebreak
Over flecks of summer grass on the sheep-tracked hill.
Dragonflies mirrored in the dam, weavers
Of transparencies gyrate
Cerulean and ruby images of free-will.

Dipping and drifting, they couple in mid-air
Like helicopters refuelling, carrying on
Mutual flirtations with the bronze face
Of the deep dam, their fuselages clear
As noon sky in the desert, or the red clarion
Venus sometimes flashes through the black space.

They float through the branches of the mirrored trees.
A trout rises. They cross the concentric rings,
Wings transparent as angels’, though the treasure
Of sex ballasts their jewelled bodies.
They brush the waters’ gum-blossoms with their wings.
The trout leaps. At least they died for pleasure.

Geoffrey Dutton  (1922 – 1998)

Complacency = gratification

S1 – Christmas in Australia – summer time and hot, and even if you don’t believe in Christmas it might come while sitting down by a dam watching nature on a sheep property. The sheep form tracks across the hill. Dragonflies become angels – their transparent wings perpendicular to their clear bodies – movement aptly defined by ‘weavers of transparencies gyrate’ … Cerulean – sapphire

S2 – The movement must have been captivating – especially to Geoff Dutton who was in the Air Force in the war – not that you have to know how helicopters refuel! The dam reflection gives a display of the flirtation. The water is certainly bronze (brown) and not blue and would be still on a hot mid-day … and a contrast with the clarity of the fuselages!

S3 – A trout enters the scene … only three words (a trout rises) … then back to the main theatre of operations … the sex play of dragonflies above the dam … I really like the words – the treasure of sex ballasts their jewelled bodies … and they are caught in pleasure in the still of a moment just above the water. Then another three words on the trout (the trout leaps) … and it is the end of the performance. Isn’t it wonderful that the trout only gets six words in the whole poem – and these words dedicated to action.

Apparently dragonflies are among the fastest flying insects in the world. Dragonflies can fly backwards, change direction in mid-air and hover for up to a minute so helicopters is qute an appropriate comparison.

… and below is a photograph courtesy of Wikipedia of two yellow striped hunter dragonflies fully focused …



Geoff Dutton was one of the co-founders of the AustraliankBook Review (ABR) and for more details see


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