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Best Famous Derek Walcott Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Derek Walcott poems. This is a select list of the best famous Derek Walcott poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Derek Walcott poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Derek Walcott poems.

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Written by Derek Walcott |

The Sea Is History

 The Sea Is History

Written by Derek Walcott |

A Far Cry From Africa

 A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt
Of Africa, Kikuyu, quick as flies,
Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt.
Corpses are scattered through a paradise.
Only the worm, colonel of carrion, cries: "Waste no compassion on these separate dead!" Statistics justify and scholars seize The salients of colonial policy.
What is that to the white child hacked in bed? To savages, expendable as Jews? Threshed out by beaters, the long rushes break In a white dust of ibises whose cries Have wheeled since civilizations dawn >From the parched river or beast-teeming plain.
The violence of beast on beast is read As natural law, but upright man Seeks his divinity by inflicting pain.
Delirious as these worried beasts, his wars Dance to the tightened carcass of a drum, While he calls courage still that native dread Of the white peace contracted by the dead.
Again brutish necessity wipes its hands Upon the napkin of a dirty cause, again A waste of our compassion, as with Spain, The gorilla wrestles with the superman.
I who am poisoned with the blood of both, Where shall I turn, divided to the vein? I who have cursed The drunken officer of British rule, how choose Between this Africa and the English tongue I love? Betray them both, or give back what they give? How can I face such slaughter and be cool? How can I turn from Africa and live?

Written by Derek Walcott |

After The Storm

 There are so many islands! 
As many islands as the stars at night 
on that branched tree from which meteors are shaken 
like falling fruit around the schooner Flight.
But things must fall,and so it always was, on one hand Venus,on the other Mars; fall,and are one,just as this earth is one island in archipelagoes of stars.
My first friend was the sea.
Now,is my last.
I stop talking now.
I work,then I read, cotching under a lantern hooked to the mast.
I try to forget what happiness was, and when that don't work,I study the stars.
Sometimes is just me,and the soft-scissored foam as the deck turn white and the moon open a cloud like a door,and the light over me is a road in white moonlight taking me home.
Shabine sang to you from the depths of the sea.

More great poems below...

Written by Derek Walcott |

Dark August

 So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky
of this black August.
My sister, the sun, broods in her yellow room and won't come out.
Everything goes to hell; the mountains fume like a kettle, rivers overrun; still, she will not rise and turn off the rain.
She is in her room, fondling old things, my poems, turning her album.
Even if thunder falls like a crash of plates from the sky, she does not come out.
Don't you know I love you but am hopeless at fixing the rain ? But I am learning slowly to love the dark days, the steaming hills, the air with gossiping mosquitoes, and to sip the medicine of bitterness, so that when you emerge, my sister, parting the beads of the rain, with your forehead of flowers and eyes of forgiveness, all with not be as it was, but it will be true (you see they will not let me love as I want), because, my sister, then I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones, The black rain, the white hills, when once I loved only my happiness and you.

Written by Derek Walcott |

A Citys Death By Fire

 After that hot gospeller has levelled all but the churched sky,
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city's death by fire;
Under a candle's eye, that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell, in more than wax, of faiths that were snapped like wire.
All day I walked abroad among the rubbled tales, Shocked at each wall that stood on the street like a liar; Loud was the bird-rocked sky, and all the clouds were bales Torn open by looting, and white, in spite of the fire.
By the smoking sea, where Christ walked, I asked, why Should a man wax tears, when his wooden world fails? In town, leaves were paper, but the hills were a flock of faiths; To a boy who walked all day, each leaf was a green breath Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails, Blessing the death and the baptism by fire.

Written by Derek Walcott |


 Schizophrenic, wrenched by two styles,
one a hack's hired prose, I earn
me exile.
I trudge this sickle, moonlit beach for miles, tan, burn to slough off this live of ocean that's self-love.
To change your language you must change your life.
I cannot right old wrongs.
Waves tire of horizon and return.
Gulls screech with rusty tongues Above the beached, rotting pirogues, they were a venomous beaked cloud at Charlotteville.
One I thought love of country was enough, now, even if I chose, there is no room at the trough.
I watch the best minds rot like dogs for scraps of flavour.
I am nearing middle age, burnt skin peels from my hand like paper, onion-thin, like Peer Gynt's riddle.
At heart there is nothing, not the dread of death.
I know to many dead.
They're all familiar, all in character, even how they died.
On fire, the flesh no longer fears that furnace mouth of earth, that kiln or ashpit of the sun, nor this clouding, unclouding sickle moon withering this beach again like a blank page.
All its indifference is a different rage.

Written by Derek Walcott |

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.
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.
Feast on your life.

Written by Derek Walcott |


 Those five or six young guys
lunched on the stoop
that oven-hot summer night
whistled me over.
Nice and friendly.
So, I stop.
MacDougal or Christopher Street in chains of light.
A summer festival.
Or some saint's.
I wasn't too far from home, but not too bright for a nigger, and not too dark.
I figured we were all one, wop, nigger, jew, besides, this wasn't Central Park.
I'm coming on too strong? You figure right! They beat this yellow nigger black and blue.
During all this, scared on case one used a knife, I hung my olive-green, just-bought sports coat on a fire plug.
I did nothing.
They fought each other, really.
Life gives them a few kcks, that's all.
The spades, the spicks.
My face smashed in, my bloddy mug pouring, my olive-branch jacket saved from cuts and tears, I crawled four flights upstairs.
Sprawled in the gutter, I remember a few watchers waved loudly, and one kid's mother shouting like "Jackie" or "Terry," "now that's enough!" It's nothing really.
They don't get enough love.
You know they wouldn't kill you.
Just playing rough, like young Americans will.
Still it taught me somthing about love.
If it's so tough, forget it.

Written by Derek Walcott |

In The Virgins

 You can't put in the ground swell of the organ
from the Christiansted, St.
Croix, Anglican Church behind the paratrooper's voice: "Turned cop after Vietnam.
I made thirty jumps.
" Bells punish the dead street and pigeons lurch from the stone belfry, opening their chutes, circling until the rings of ringing stop.
"Salud!" The paratrooper's glass is raised.
The congregation rises to its feet like a patrol, with scuffling shoes and boots, repeating orders as the organ thumps: "Praise Ye the Lord.
The Lord's name be praised.
" You cannot hear, beyond the quiet harbor, the breakers cannonading on the bruised horizon, or the charter engines gunning for Buck Island.
The only war here is a war of silence between blue sky and sea, and just one voice, the marching choir's, is raised to draft new conscripts with the ancient cry of "Onward, Christian Soldiers," into pews half-empty still, or like a glass, half-full.
Pinning itself to a cornice, a gull hangs like a medal from the serge-blue sky.
Are these boats all? Is the blue water all? The rocks surpliced with lace where they are moored, dinghy, catamaran, and racing yawl, nodding to the ground swell of "Praise the Lord"? Wesley and Watts, their evangelical light lanced down the mine shafts to our chapel pew, its beam gritted with motes of anthracite that drifted on us in our chapel benches: from God's slow-grinding mills in Lancashire, ash on the dead mired in Flanders' trenches, as a gray drizzle now defiles the view of this blue harbor, framed in windows where two yellow palm fronds, jerked by the wind's rain, agree like horses' necks, and nodding bear, slow as a hearse, a haze of tasseled rain, and, as the weather changes in a child, the paradisal day outside grows dark, the yachts flutter like moths in a gray jar, the martial voices fade in thunder, while across the harbor, like a timid lure, a rainbow casts its seven-colored arc.
Tonight, now Sunday has been put to rest.
Altar lights ride the black glass where the yachts stiffly repeat themselves and phosphoresce with every ripple - the wide parking-lots of tidal affluence - and every mast sways the night's dial as its needle veers to find the station which is truly peace.
Like neon lasers shot across the bars discos blast out the music of the spheres, and, one by one, science infects the stars.

Written by Derek Walcott |


 Better a jungle in the head
than rootless concrete.
Better to stand bewildered by the fireflies' crooked street; winter lamps do not show where the sidewalk is lost, nor can these tongues of snow speak for the Holy Ghost; the self-increasing silence of words dropped from a roof points along iron railings, direction, in not proof.
But best is this night surf with slow scriptures of sand, that sends, not quite a seraph, but a late cormorant, whose fading cry propels through phosphorescent shoal what, in my childhood gospels, used to be called the Soul.

Written by Derek Walcott |

R.T.S.L. (1917-1977)

 As for that other thing
which comes when the eyelid is glazed
and the wax gleam
from the unwrinkled forehead
asks no more questions
of the dry mouth,

whether they open the heart like a shirt
to release a rage of swallows,
whether the brain
is a library for worms,
on the instant of that knowledge
of the moment
when everything became so stiff,

so formal with ironical adieux,
organ and choir,
and I must borrow a black tie,
and at what moment in the oration
shall I break down and weep -
there was the startle of wings
breaking from the closing cage
of your body, your fist unclenching
these pigeons circling serenely
over the page,

as the parentheses lock like a gate
1917 to 1977,
the semicircles close to form a face,
a world, a wholeness,
an unbreakable O,
and something that once had a fearful name
walks from the thing that used to wear its name,
transparent, exact representative,
so that we can see through it
churches, cars, sunlight, 
and the Boston Common,
not needing any book.

Written by Derek Walcott |

The Saddhu Of Couva

 When sunset, a brass gong,
vibrate through Couva,
is then I see my soul, swiftly unsheathed,
like a white cattle bird growing more small
over the ocean of the evening canes,
and I sit quiet, waiting for it to return
like a hog-cattle blistered with mud,
because, for my spirit, India is too far.
And to that gong sometimes bald clouds in saffron robes assemble sacred to the evening, sacred even to Ramlochan, singing Indian hits from his jute hammock while evening strokes the flanks and silver horns of his maroon taxi, as the mosquitoes whine their evening mantras, my friend Anopheles, on the sitar, and the fireflies making every dusk Divali.
I knot my head with a cloud, my white mustache bristle like horns, my hands are brittle as the pages of Ramayana.
Once the sacred monkeys multiplied like branches in the ancient temples: I did not miss them, because these fields sang of Bengal, behind Ramlochan Repairs there was Uttar Pradesh; but time roars in my ears like a river, old age is a conflagration as fierce as the cane fires of crop time.
I will pass through these people like a cloud, they will see a white bird beating the evening sea of the canes behind Couva, and who will point it as my soul unsheathed? Naither the bridegroom in beads, nor the bride in her veils, their sacred language on the cinema hoardings.
I talked too damn much on the Couva Village Council.
I talked too softly, I was always drowned by the loudspeakers in front of the stores or the loudspeakers with the greatest pictures.
I am best suited to stalk like a white cattle bird on legs like sticks, with sticking to the Path between the canes on a district road at dusk.
Playing the Elder.
There are no more elders.
Is only old people.
My friends spit on the government.
I do not think is just the government.
Suppose all the gods too old, Suppose they dead and they burning them, supposing when some cane cutter start chopping up snakes with a cutlass he is severing the snake-armed god, and suppose some hunter has caught Hanuman in his mischief in a monkey cage.
Suppose all the gods were killed by electric light? Sunset, a bonfire, roars in my ears; embers of brown swallows dart and cry, like women distracted, around its cremation.
I ascend to my bed of sweet sandalwood.

Written by Derek Walcott |

Midsummer Tobago

 Broad sun-stoned beaches.
White heat.
A green river.
A bridge, scorched yellow palms from the summer-sleeping house drowsing through August.
Days I have held, days I have lost, days that outgrow, like daughters, my harbouring arms.

Written by Derek Walcott |


 Man, I suck me tooth when I hear
How dem croptime fiddlers lie,
And de wailing, kiss-me-arse flutes
That bring water to me eye!
Oh, when I t'ink how from young
I wasted time at de fetes,
I could bawl in a red-eyed rage
For desire turned to regret,
Not knowing the truth that I sang
At parang and la commette.
Boy, every damned tune them tune Of love that go last forever Is the wax and the wane of the moon Since Adam catch body-fever.
I old, so the young crop won't Have these claws to reap their waist, But I know "do more" from "don't" Since the grave cry out "Make haste!" This banjo world have one string And all man does dance to that tune: That love is a place in the bush With music grieving from far, As you look past her shoulder and see Like her one tear afterwards The falling of a fixed star.
Yound men does bring love to disgrace With remorseful, regretful words, When flesh upon flesh was the tune Since the first cloud raise up to disclose The breast of the naked moon.

Written by Derek Walcott |

Egypt Tobago

 There is a shattered palm
on this fierce shore,
its plumes the rusting helm-
et of a dead warrior.
Numb Antony, in the torpor stretching her inert sex near him like a sleeping cat, knows his heart is the real desert.
Over the dunes of her heaving, to his heart's drumming fades the mirage of the legions, across love-tousled sheets, the triremes fading.
Ar the carved door of her temple a fly wrings its message.
He brushes a damp hair away from an ear as perfect as a sleeping child's.
He stares, inert, the fallen column.
He lies like a copper palm tree at three in the afternoon by a hot sea and a river, in Egypt, Tobago Her salt marsh dries in the heat where he foundered without armor.
He exchanged an empire for her beads of sweat, the uproar of arenas, the changing surf of senators, for this silent ceiling over silent sand - this grizzled bear, whose fur, moulting, is silvered - for this quick fox with her sweet stench.
By sleep dismembered, his head is in Egypt, his feet in Rome, his groin a desert trench with its dead soldier.
He drifts a finger through her stiff hair crisp as a mare's fountaining tail.
Shadows creep up the palace tile.
He is too tired to move; a groan would waken trumpets, one more gesture war.
His glare, a shield reflecting fires, a brass brow that cannot frown at carnage, sweats the sun's force.
It is not the turmoil of autumnal lust, its treacheries, that drove him, fired and grimed with dust, this far, not even love, but a great rage without clamor, that grew great because its depth is quiet; it hears the river of her young brown blood, it feels the whole sky quiver with her blue eyelid.
She sleeps with the soft engine of a child, that sleep which scythes the stalks of lances, fells the harvest of legions with nothing for its knives, that makes Caesars, sputtering at flies, slapping their foreheads with the laurel's imprint, drunkards, comedians.
All-humbling sleep, whose peace is sweet as death, whose silence has all the sea's weight and volubility, who swings this globe by a hair's trembling breath.
Shattered and wild and palm-crowned Antony, rusting in Egypt, ready to lose the world, to Actium and sand, everything else is vanity, but this tenderness for a woman not his mistress but his sleeping child.
The sky is cloudless.
The afternoon is mild.