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Friday, November 4, 2011

Give back your heart to itself


Love After Love 
by 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.


We've been lucky to have had Derek Walcott in Edmonton for the last several years teaching a master class at the university.  The above poem is one of my favorites.  Very human, very elegant, and very precise.  So simply written, yet so profound - the kind of poem that takes your breath away.

I know it's a bit cheesy to quote from Wikipedia, but this is where this is from:

Methodism and spirituality have played a significant role from the beginning, in Walcott's work. He commented "I have never separated the writing of poetry from prayer. I have grown up believing it is a vocation, a religious vocation". He describes the experience of the poet: "the body feels it is melting into what it has seen… the “I” not being important. That is the ecstasy...Ultimately, it’s what Yeats says: 'Such a sweetness flows into the breast that we laugh at everything and everything we look upon is blessed.' That’s always there. It’s a benediction, a transference. It’s gratitude, really. The more of that a poet keeps, the more genuine his nature." He notes that "if one thinks a poem is coming on...you do make a retreat, a withdrawal into some kind of silence that cuts out everything around you. What you’re taking on is really not a renewal of your identity but actually a renewal of your anonymity."

A renewal of your anonymity.

And that's it too, right?

And so dear poets, today, feast on your life. Do.

2 comments:

  1. I am not a poet myself but am always in awe of them.....nevertheless, today... no everyday, I shall sit and feast on my life! :-)
    Have a great day, Shauna!

    ReplyDelete
  2. wonderful poem, really enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete

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