Derek Walcott

Poetry

The 1992 Nobel Laureate in Literature Derek Walcott reads his poem ‘Sea Grapes’ from “Collected Poems 1948-1984”. The video was recorded at Harvard University in April, 2005.

Two poems by Derek Walcott

Sea Grapes

That sail which leans on light,
tired of islands,
a schooner beating up the Caribbean

for home, could be Odysseus,
home-bound on the Aegean;
that father and husband’s

longing, under gnarled sour grapes, is like
the adulterer hearing Nausicaa’s name in
every gull’s outcry.

This brings nobody peace. The ancient war
between obsession and responsibility will
never finish and has been the same

for the sea-wanderer or the one on shore now
wriggling on his sandals to walk home, since
Troy sighed its last flame,

and the blind giant’s boulder heaved the trough from
whose groundswell the great hexameters come to the
conclusions of exhausted surf.

The classics can console. But not enough.

“Sea Grapes” from COLLECTED POEMS 1948-1984
by Derek Walcott.
Copyright © 1986 by Derek Walcott.
Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.
All rights reserved.
CAUTION: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

 

Fame

This is Fame: Sundays,
an emptiness
as in Balthus,

cobbled alleys,
sunlit, aureate,
a wall, a brown tower

at the end of a street,
a blue without bells,
like a dead canvas

set in its white
frame, and flowers:
gladioli, lame

gladioli, stone petals
in a vase. The choir’s
sky-high praise

turned off. A book
of prints that turns
by itself. The ticktock

of high heels on a sidewalk.
A crawling clock.
A craving for work.

“Fame” from THE ARKANSAS TESTAMENT by Derek Walcott.
Copyright © 1987 by Derek Walcott.
Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.
All rights reserved.
CAUTION: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

 

Poems selected by the Nobel Library of the Swedish Academy.

To cite this section
MLA style: Derek Walcott – Poetry. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2021. Sat. 12 Jun 2021. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1992/walcott/poetry/>

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