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Words that burn in the blood: nine quotes in memory of Derek Walcott

Nine Quotes in Memory of Derek Walcott

The world shudders in the wake of the passing of Derek Walcott. Playwright. Poet. Nobel Laureate. His words built monuments that continue to stand in the face of his death at age 87, on March 17, 2017. In tribute, but more as a salve to help heal the wound of his passing, here are nine quotes, the literary equivalent of the nine-night, with which to celebrate his life and work.

 

“Visual surprise is natural in the Caribbean; it comes with the landscape, and faced with its beauty, the sigh of History dissolves.”

 


 

“[F]or what else is there
but books, books and the sea,
verandahs and the pages of the sea,
to write of the wind and the memory of wind-whipped hair
in the sun, the colour of fire?”

 


 

“Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.”

 


“The future happens. No matter how much we scream.”

 


 

“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.”

 


 

“I know when dark-haired evening put on her bright silk at sunset, and, folding the sea sidled under the sheet with her starry laugh, that there'd be no rest, there'd be no forgetting. Is like telling mourners round the graveside about resurrection, they want the dead back.”

 


 

“[F]or one walks past the gilded hallucinations of poverty with a corrupt resignation touched by details, as if the destitute, in their orange-tinted back yards, under their dusty trees, or climbing into their favelas, were all natural scene designers and poverty were not a condition but an art. Deprivation is made lyrical, and twilight, with the patience of alchemy, almost transmutes despair into virtue. In the tropics nothing is lovelier than the allotments of the poor, no theater is as vivid, voluble, and cheap."

 


“If you know what you are going to write when you’re writing a poem, it’s going to be average.”

 


“For every poet it is always morning in the world; history a forgotten, insomniac night. The fate of poetry is to fall in love with the world in spite of history.”