Friday, 17 March 2017

Derek Walcott (23/1/30 - 17/2/17) RIP - Love after Love

Derek Walcott, a Nobel-prize winning poet known for capturing the essence of his native Caribbean who became the region’s most internationally famous writer,  died early Friday at his home in the eastern Caribbean nation of St. Lucia, aged 87,according to his son, Peter after battling a long illness. “Derek Alton Walcott, poet, playwright, and painter died peacefully today, Friday 17th March, 2017, at his home in Cap Estate, Saint Lucia,” read a statement the family released later in the morning. It said the funeral would be held in St. Lucia and details would be announced shortly This was confirmed by his publishers who noted on social media: "Derek Walcott was a true presence who filled  the literary landscape and did so with a delicacy of touch. We  have lost a giant of literature."
In “Omeros” (1990), an epic poem considered his most ambitious and accomplished work, he invoked Caribbean voices through Greek myth, drawing on Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey”.Two years later,  this prolific and versatile poet was awarded the Nobel Prize, after being shorlisted for many years and in its citation, the Swedish Academy said: “He has both African and European blood in his veins. In him, West Indian culture has found its great poet. He would later win the TS Eliot prize for poetry in 2011, followed by the Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry lifetime recognition award in 2015.Born in 1930, he studied at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, before moving to Trinidad in 1953, where he worked as a theatre and art critic.He first attracted attention on St Lucia with a  book of poems that he published himself when he was 18 entitled 25 poems.Walcott’s  breakthrough came with the collection In a Green Night: Poems 1948-1960 (1962), a book which celebrates the Caribbean and its history as well as investigating the scars of colonialism and post-colonialism. Walcott, who was of African, Dutch and English ancestry, said his writing reflected the “very rich and complicated experience” of life in the Caribbean.His ancestry wove together the major strands of Caribbean history, an inheritance he described famously in a poem from 1980's ' The Star-Apple Kingdom' as having "Dutch, nigger, and English in me,/ and either I'm nobody, or I'm a/ nation." Both of his  grandmothers were said to have  been descended from slaves, but his father who died when Walcott was only a year old, was a painter, and his mother the headmistress of a methodist school - enough to ensure that Walcott received what  he called in  the same poem a' sound colonial education.' His  work earned him a reputation as one of the greatest writers of the second half of the 20th century. He compared his feeling for poetry to a religious evocation. Derek Walcott found that he was often defined as a black writer. That is not how he saw himself. He was, he said, first and foremost, a Caribbean writer.  “I am primarily, absolutely a Caribbean writer,” he once said during a 1985 interview published in The Paris Review. “The English language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself. I have never felt inhibited in trying to write as well as the greatest English poets.”He was also an accomplished painter and playwright.
His life though was marred with controversy.He taught at US universities, where two female students accused him of interfering with their academic achievements after they rejected his advances. This was said to have counted against him when he was passed over for the post of poet laureate in 1999. He was also forced to withdraw his candidacy for the post of Oxford professor of poetry in 2009 in a case which also forced the resignation of his rival Ruth Padel only nine days into her term.
Prior to his retirement in 2007, Walcott taught for decades at Bostom University and spent time in New York and Boston as well as St Lucia. He married and divorced three times, and he had  three children - Peter , Elizabeth and Anna. He is survived by his children, grandchildren and his companion of many tears, Sigrid Nama. The world has lost one of its most noted literary icons. He helped illuminate the world,  RIP. The poetry society described his death as terrible news and encouraged others to read his poetry in memoriam. A full -length obituary has been published by the Guardian newspaper.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment