Tag Archives | Derek Walcott

They cried for a broken gourd

Yet they felt the sea-wind tying them into one nation of eyes and shadows and groans, in the one pain that is inconsolable, the loss of one’s shore with its crooked footpath. They had wept, not for their wives only, their fading children, but for strange, ordinary things. This one, who was a hunter, wept […]

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Angelus Ashes

“. . . Every noon, a carillon sprinkled its yellow petals above a morose banyan. The Church of Immaculate Conception was numbering the Angelus. With lace frills on, balconies stood upright, as did the false pillars of the Georgian library; each citizen stood paralyzed as the bell counted the hours. A dozen halos of sound […]

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The Parentheses of Palms

“Kneel to your load, then balance your staggering feet and walk up that coal ladder as they do in time, one bare foot after the next in ancestral rhyme. Because Rhyme remains the parentheses of palms shielding a candle’s tongue, it is the language’s desire to enclose the loved world in its arms; or heft […]

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Battle of the Saints

The galleon’s shadow

I In the islet’s museum there is a twisted wine bottle, crusted with fool’s gold from the iron- cold depth below the redoubt. It has been listed variously by experts: one, that a galleon blown by a hurricane out of Cartagena, this far east, had bled a trail of gold bullion and wine from its […]

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Poems by Heart

As I’m reading Omeros, I’ve also been reading a bit about Derek Walcott, curious about his life an influences and such. This piece from Caribbean Beat has some interesting details. It seems he lived in Boston for some years, teaching at Harvard and later at Boston University. I like the image here of him causing […]

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The conch shell’s invocation

Two brief selections today that caught my eye. I’m mesmerized at how Walcott plays with words and images, dances between his native Caribbean and Homer’s epic world. It’s almost as if his poem is a palimpsest written on top of Homer, the remembered lines of the ancient epic dancing faintly under Walcott’s bold lines. It’s […]

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To roof the sea

A little more from Book I of Derek Walcott’s Omeros. I just love this description of the trees that thirst to become canoes and the way they almost are ships even before they are shaped. It’s so very joyful, so full of life, and the language just sings. And I always enjoy descriptions of how […]

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“This is how, one sunrise, we cut down them canoes.” Philoctete smiles for the tourists, who try taking his soul with their cameras. “Once wind bring the news to the laurier-cannelles, their leaves start shaking the minute the axe of sunlight hit the cedars, because they could see the axes in our own eyes. Wind […]

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