The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 NPR coverage of The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013, collected by Glyn Maxwell. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
NPR logo The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013

The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013

by Derek Walcott and Glyn Maxwell

Hardcover, 617 pages, Farrar Straus & Giroux, List Price: $40 |


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The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013
Derek Walcott and Glyn Maxwell

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NPR Summary

A collection spanning the range of the Nobel Prize-winning writer's career includes his first published poem, "In My Eighteenth Year"; his first widely celebrated verses on the violence in Africa; his mature work from The Star-Apple Kingdom; and his late masterpieces from White Egrets.

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Excerpt: The Poetry Of Derek Walcott 1948-2013


The starved eye devours the seascape for the morsel
Of a sail.

The horizon threads it infinitely.

Action breeds frenzy. I lie,
Sailing the ribbed shadow of a palm,
Afraid lest my own footprints multiply.

Blowing sand, thin as smoke,
Bored, shifts its dunes.
The surf tires of its castles like a child.

The salt-green vine with yellow trumpet-flower,
A net, inches across nothing.
Nothing: the rage with which the sandfly's head is filled.

Pleasures of an old man:
Morning: contemplative evacuation, considering
The dried leaf, nature's plan.

In the sun, the dog's feces
Crusts, whitens like coral.
We end in earth, from earth began.
In our own entrails, genesis.

If I listen I can hear the polyp build,
The silence thwanged by two waves of the sea.
Cracking a sea-louse, I make thunder split.

Godlike, annihilating Godhead, art
And self, I abandon
Dead metaphors: the almond's leaflike heart,

The ripe brain rotting like a yellow nut
Its babel of sea-lice, sandfly and maggot,

That green wine bottle's gospel choked with sand,
Labeled, a wrecked ship,
Clenched seawood nailed and white as a man's hand.

Excerpted from THE POETRY OF DEREK WALCOTT 1948-2013 by Derek Walcott, selected by Glyn Maxwell, published in January 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2014 by Derek Walcott. All rights reserved.