Today would have been my grandfather’s 88th birthday and he was the one to buy me my first book of poems sold in the Scholastic magazine at school. The bible was his book, the psalms his poems. He was the son of a fisherman, born on a boat between St. Thomas and Puerto Rico where the two sides of his family resided. Many summers he carried me to St. Thomas where I not only got to know my family but learned about Caribbean culture. So I’ve chosen today’s writing artist with him in mind. I love you Gramps!
Derek Walcott is a Caribbean painter, playwright and poet from St. Lucia. Although he was a formally trained painter, at the age of 19, with $200 of borrowed money, he printed his own collection of poetry titled 25 Poems and gave it out on street corners. He went on to write several poetry collections including In a Green Night: Poems 1948-1960, The Prodigal, Selected Poems. Omeros and White Egrets. His commitment to celebrating and preserving the spirit of the Caribbean through his words earned him a Nobel Prize. Walcott’s plays and art are also rooted in strong displays of social and political aspects of the West Indian life. Below I give you his poem Love After Love.
Love After Love
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