Poetry, Prayer

Derek Walcott: The Fist

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.

Derek Walcott turned 80 yesterday. One of my favorite poets (Omeros is otherworldly), he once said in a Paris Review interview with the excellent Edward Hirsch: “I have never separated the writing of poetry from prayer.” A sentence that has kept me company throughout the last decade. We are lucky to have him.

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