Friday, October 17, 2008

Poem: Derek Walcott

Walcott"I haven't posted a poem in a long while, so here's one of my favorites, by (at left, from Derek Walcott, Dead White Males), which I first came across when I was a teenager.

No exigesis necessary, I think; as is the case with so many of his poems, from the earliest, of which this is one of the finest examples, to the most recent, it speaks powerfully for itself.


As John to Patmos, among the rocks and the blue, live air, hounded
His heart to peace, as here surrounded
By the strewn-silver on waves, the wood's crude hair, the rounded
Breasts of the milky bays, palms, flocks, and the green and dead

Leaves, the sun's brass coin on my cheek, where
Canoes brace the sun's strength, as John, in that bleak air,
So am I welcomed richer by these blue scapes, Greek there,
So I shall voyage no more from home; may I speak here.

This island is heaven--away from the dustblown blood of cities;
See the curve of bay, watch the struggling flower, pretty is
The wing'd sound of trees, the sparse-powdered sky, when lit is
The night. For beauty has surrounded
Its black children, and freed them of homeless ditties.

As John to Patmos, in each love-leaping air,
O slave, soldier, worker under red trees sleeping, hear
What I swear now, as John did;
To praise lovelong, the living and the brown dead.

Copyright © 2007, Derek Walcott, from Selected Poems: Derek Walcott, edited by Edward Baugh, New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux, p. 4. All rights reserved.

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