Good night, Derek Walcott, sir. Thank you for your poems. Rest easy now.

Endings
Derek Walcott

Things do not explode,
they fail, they fade,

as sunlight fades from the flesh,
as the foam drains quick in the sand,

even love’s lightning flash
has no thunderous end,

it dies with the sound
of flowers fading like the flesh

from sweating pumice stone,
everything shapes this

till we are left
with the silence that surrounds Beethoven’s head.

This is from Collected Poems 1948-1984 by Derek Walcott, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1986.

One of the things I promised myself was to live by the sea. Someday.

Winding Up
Derek Walcott

I live on the water,
alone. Without wife and children,
I have circled every possibility
to come to this:

a low house by grey water,
with windows always open
to the stale sea. We do not choose such things,

but we are what we have made.
We suffer, the years pass,
we shed freight but not our need

for encumbrances. Love is a stone
that settled on the sea-bed
under grey water. Now, I require nothing

from poetry but true feeling,
no pity, no fame, no healing. Silent wife,
we can sit watching grey water,

and in a life awash
with mediocrity and trash
live rock-like.

I shall unlearn feeling,
unlearn my gift. That is greater
and harder than what passes there for life.

This is from Collected Poems 1948-1984 by Derek Walcott, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1986.

The way I panic and can’t breathe, drowning in a dream. The way I wake up gasping, not knowing where I’ve been.

The Fist
Derek Walcott

The fist clenched round my heart
loosens a little, and I gasp
brightness; but it tightens
again. When have I ever not loved
the pain of love? But this has moved

past love to mania. This has the strong
clench of the madman, this is
gripping the ledge of unreason, before
plunging howling into the abyss.

Hold hard then, heart. This way at least you live.

This is from Collected Poems 1948-1984 by Derek Walcott, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1986.

This poem brought me to my knees years ago. It still makes me weep today.

Love After Love
Derek Walcott

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.

This is from Collected Poems 1948-1984 by Derek Walcott, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1986.