And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

søndag 28. august 2016

The Statue, a poem by Derek Walcott

As is quite apparent to regular readers of this blog, I am a big enthusiast for the verse of Saint Lucian writer and 1992 Nobel laureate in literature Derek Walcott. This is the reason why I often turn to his poetry when I need blogposts that do not require much time to prepare, research or write, and that is, to me, a perfect excuse to highlight some of his lesser known poems, such as those from the early collections which did not make it into the collected poems edition published by Faber & Faber in 1986.

In this blogpost, I give you a short poem from his collection The Castaway, first published i 1965. I take the text from the 1969 Jonathan Cape paperback edition.


Stone will not bleed;
Nor shall this vixor'ed prince, apotheozised
On his stone steed,
A barrel-bellied charger treading the air,
Its tightening haunches set
To hurdle with its warrior the chasm
Between our age and theirs.
Its eyes erupt, bulge in a spasm
Of marble. We stare
At their slow power to corrupt;

Then turn to read
Around another statue, civic-sized,
Bare, halding head,
Of some archaic, muscular aphorist
Laurelled, toga unkempt,
His forked hand raised like a diviner's rod,
His face creased with the wise
Exhaustion of a god.
Their eyes
Withhold amusement, mine, contempt.

Boys will be boys.
Who can instruct them where true honour lies?
Instinct or choice,
Proclaims it lies within
War's furious, dandiacal discipline.
We, who have known

Its victims huddled in a reeking ditch
Of the staff's iron light hurtling Saul
into pedestrian sainthood at his fall,
Still praise that murderous energy of stone.

On them, your fatherly, exhausted air
Is lost,
As sightless as the god's prophetic stare.

Across that gulf each greets the other's ghost.

For similar blogposts
Ruins of a great house

Two poems

The Prince


A selection of poems

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