Friday, December 29, 2017

Poetry Friday: Islands

I got a book of Derek Walcott's poetry for Christmas from my daughter, and here's one of the first ones I read:

Islands
(for Margaret)

Merely to name them is the prose
Of diarists, to make you a name
For readers who like travellers praise
Their beds and beaches as the same;
But islands can only exist
If we have loved in them.  I seek,
As climate seeks its style, to write
Verse crisp as sand, clear as sunlight,
Cold as the curled wave, ordinary
As a tumbler of island water;
Yet, like a diarist, thereafter
I savor their salt-haunted rooms
(Your body stirring the creased sea
Of crumpled sheets), whose mirrors lose
Our huddled, sleeping images,
Like words which love had hoped to use
Erased with the surf's pages.

So, like a diarist in sand,
I mark the peace with which you graced
Particular islands, descending
A narrow stair to light the lamps
Against the night surf's noises, shielding
A leaping mantle with one hand,
Or simply scaling fish for supper,
Onions, jack-fish, bread, red snapper;
And on each kiss the harsh sea-taste,
And how by moonlight you were made
To study most the surf's unyielding
Patience though it seems a waste.

Derek Walcott

I've been an island-dweller myself for more than twenty years now, and I have definitely loved in this beautiful island of Haiti.  I'm looking forward to reading more of Walcott's "verse crisp as sand, clear as sunlight, cold as the curled wave, ordinary as a tumbler of island water," and as a wannabe poet myself, those are some good goals for the new year.  

 Heidi has today's roundup.

13 comments:

Linda Mitchell said...

What a stunning poem. I hope you share more. I love the ideas of islands he offers...your body in the sheets, words crisp as sand. Absolutely stunning poem. I can see you will be friends. Happy New Year, Ruth.

BJ Lee said...

Wonderful poem! Enjoy your book, Ruth!

Jane @ www.raincitylibrarian.ca said...

"like a diarist is sand", what a striking, poignant image. Thank you for sharing this stunning poem, and a happy island new years to you and yours!

Unknown said...

A warm and wonderful poem, full of humanity.

Kay said...

Beautiful poem! It is a good one to journey with, even for those of us land-locked through the winter.

Amy LV said...

Magical. I wish you a year full of such journeying over land and water and paper too. Happy 2018.... xxxx

Christie Wyman said...

Makes me long for island summers of my childhood in Maine. Thank you for those lovely warm thoughts on a below zero day in New England. Happy New Year! -- Christie

Violet N. said...

What a gorgeous love poem--for islands, and for his woman. I hope you find many more treasures in your book, Ruth. Happy New Year on your island.

Mary Lee said...

Did you pick the poem, or did the poem pick you? ; - )

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Island comes alive here--what a fine gift to find inside your fine gift! Wishing you a brilliant 2018, Ruth!

Linda B said...

I have a Derek Wolcott book & have barely touched it. Now I will, Ruth. I too love that "verse crisp as sand". It is a beautiful love poem. I'm glad you shared and Happy New Year!

Michelle Kogan said...

What a grand sense of adventure offered in this poem; enjoy the poems as you travel through your new book! And a Happy New Year to you and your family Ruth!

Whispers from the Ridge said...

"savor their salt-haunted rooms" Now there's a line for my notebook! I am ready for some island warmth and any glimpse of the sun would do nicely, too!