By Derek Walcott
A suite of poems via modern poet, Derek Walcott, whose topic is the landscape of existence, panorama, tradition and politics of the West Indies.
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Additional resources for Collected Poems, 1948-1984
Who but sniffs substance gorges it, my soul, Smothers digestion with stuffed appetite. Disorders work in him and he is whole One swill of dreams that all ways wreak him spite. As arsenic can make a plant seem fresh So are these hoisted dreams that are the flesh A health not his and false and neverlasting But loved once known which blinds with change and wasting. So by my birth are you: wherefore this wry, This raw corrective that alone outwrings These doubly deathful healths: so though we die Yet so die not one coward but two kings.
Now stands our love on that still verge of day Where darkness loiters leaf to leaf releasing Lone tree to silvering tree: then slopes away Before the morning’s deep-drawn strength increasing Till the sweet land lies burnished in the dawn: But sleeping still: nor stirs a thread of grass: Large on the low hill and the spangled lawn The pureleaved air dwells passionless as glass: So stands our love new found and unaroused, Appareled in all peace and innocence, In all lost shadows of love past still drowsed Against foreknowledge of such immanence As now, with earth outshone and earth’s wide air, Shows each to other as this morning fair.
We began In hunger eager more than ache of hell: And in that hunger became each a man Ravened with hunger death alone may spell: And in that hunger live, as lived the dead, Who sought, as now we seek, in the same ways, Nobly, and hatefully, what angel’s-bread Might ever stand us out these short few days. So is this race in this wild hour confounded: And though you rectify the big distress, And kill all outward wrong where wrong abounded, Your hunger cannot make this hunger less Which breeds all wrath and right, and shall not die In earth, and finds some hope upon the sky.