Friday, March 17, 2017

March 17: Death of a Giant, Derek Walcott, "The Season of Phantasmal Peace"

I am taking a break from Slaughterhouse this evening.

Found out this afternoon that Caribbean poet Derek Walcott died early this morning.  Walcott won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992 and was one of the greats.  A poetic giant, if you will.  One of only nine writers of color to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Walcott wrote about many subjects, including race and colonialism and his cherished island of Saint Lucia.  And world peace.  If you've never read his work, you should.  It's stunning.

Saint Marty gives thanks for the life and work of Derek Walcott tonight.

The Season of Phantasmal Peace

by:  Derek Walcott

Then all the nations of birds lifted together
the huge net of the shadows of this earth
in multitudinous dialects, twittering tongues,
stitching and crossing it. They lifted up
the shadows of long pines down trackless slopes,
the shadows of glass-faced towers down evening streets,
the shadow of a frail plant on a city sill—
the net rising soundless as night, the birds' cries soundless, until
there was no longer dusk, or season, decline, or weather,
only this passage of phantasmal light
that not the narrowest shadow dared to sever.

And men could not see, looking up, what the wild geese drew,
what the ospreys trailed behind them in silvery ropes
that flashed in the icy sunlight; they could not hear
battalions of starlings waging peaceful cries,
bearing the net higher, covering this world
like the vines of an orchard, or a mother drawing
the trembling gauze over the trembling eyes
of a child fluttering to sleep;
                                                     it was the light
that you will see at evening on the side of a hill
in yellow October, and no one hearing knew
what change had brought into the raven's cawing,
the killdeer's screech, the ember-circling chough
such an immense, soundless, and high concern
for the fields and cities where the birds belong,
except it was their seasonal passing, Love,
made seasonless, or, from the high privilege of their birth,
something brighter than pity for the wingless ones
below them who shared dark holes in windows and in houses,
and higher they lifted the net with soundless voices
above all change, betrayals of falling suns,
and this season lasted one moment, like the pause
between dusk and darkness, between fury and peace,
but, for such as our earth is now, it lasted long.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Marty, just a quick note that there are at least 9 Nobel Laureates in Literature who are/were people of color, depending on whether you count Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Miguel Angel Asturias, Octavio Paz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa. Walcott was the fifth, if you don't count the Latin Americans listed above.