12 March 2009

Derek Walcott

[from Derek Walcott's The Fortunate Traveler, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1981]

[excerpt from "Map of the New World"]

[I] ARCHIPELAGOES

At the end of this sentence, rain will begin.
At the rain's edge, a sail.

Slowly the sail will lose sight of islands;
into a mist will go the belief of harbors
of an entire race.

The ten-years war is finished.
Helen's hair, a gray cloud.
Troy, a white ashpit
by the drizzling sea.

The drizzle tightens like the strings of a harp.
A man with clouded eyes picks up the rain
and plucks the first line of the Odyssey.


[II] THE COVE

Resound it, surge: the legend of Yseult
in languorous detonations of your surf.
I've smuggled in this bleached prow, rustling shoreward
to white sand guarded by fierce manchineel,
a secret
read by the shadow of a frigate hawk.

This inlet's a furnace.
The leaves flash silver signals to the waves.
Far from the curse of government by race,
I turn these leaves — this book's seditious fault —
to feel her skeins of sea mist cross my face,
and catch, on the wind's mouth, a taste of salt.

The Fortunate Traveler.

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