“Love After Love” by Derek Walcott, text with a reading by Linton Kwesi Johnson

“There is the buried language and there is the individual vocabulary, and the process of poetry is one of excavation and of self-discovery. Tonally the individual voice is a dialect; it shapes its own accent, its own vocabulary and melody in defiance of an imperial concept of language, the language of Ozymandias, libraries and dictionaries, law courts and critics, and churches, universities, political dogma, the diction of institutions. Poetry is an island that breaks away from the main.” Derek Walcott, The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory: The Nobel Lecture



The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

– Derek Walcott, Collected Poems, 1948-1984

If you are reading this post from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to the site to view this video reading. 

Derek Walcott, VIII Festival Internacional, 1992 courtesy of Jorge Mejía peralta under CC BY 2.0 license

DEREK WALCOTT Sir Derek Alton Walcott, KCSL, OBE, OCC (1930 – 2017) was a Saint Lucian poet and playwright who was awarded the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. His works include the Homeric epic poem Omeros (1990), which critics view as Walcott’s major achievement.

Walcott called himself “an elated, exuberant poet madly in love with English.” He was influenced by modernist poets such as T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.

Walcott had a sense of himself as a poet from his early youth. In the poem “Midsummer” (1984), he wrote:

Forty years gone, in my island childhood, I felt that
the gift of poetry had made me one of the chosen,
that all experience was kindling to the fire
Interview: “Derek Walcott, The Art of Poetry No. 37”, The Paris Review, Issue 101, Winter 1986.

At fourteen, Walcott’s first poem, a Miltonic, religious poem, was published in The Voice of St Lucia, the local newspaper. He was condemned by a Catholic priest for his Methodist-inspired poem, which the priest considered as blasphemous. By nineteen, Walcott had self-published his first two collections with a loan from his mother, who paid for the printing: 25 Poems (1948) and Epitaph for the Young: XII Cantos (1949). He recovered the costs and repaid his mom by selling copies to his friends.


ABOUT 

Jamie Dedes. I’m a Lebanese-American freelance writer, poet, content editor, blogger and the mother of a world-class actor and mother-in-law of a stellar writer/photographer. No grandchildren, but my grandkitty, Dahlia, rocks big time. I am hopelessly in love with nature and all her creatures. In another lifetime, I was a columnist, a publicist, and an associate editor to a regional employment publication. I’ve had to reinvent myself to accommodate scarred lungs, pulmonary hypertension, right-sided heart failure, connective tissue disease, and a rare managed but incurable blood cancer. The gift in this is time for my primary love: literature. I study/read/write from a comfy bed where I’ve carved out a busy life writing feature articles, short stories, and poetry and managing The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

 

1 thought on ““Love After Love” by Derek Walcott, text with a reading by Linton Kwesi Johnson

  1. Jamie, from the first piece of your writing that I read, I’ve been in awe. Your work is a shot of class and dignity in a beleaguered and struggling world. Thank you for being you – through all you manage daily – breath by breath.

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