If I were a poet, then I could probably make a poem of this story:
Some poems of Derek Walcott, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, appear on the website Poem Hunter.
Someone comments on one of them, “This is a good poem Derek, keep it up”
But I’m not much of a poet. I do appreciate good poetry, though, as well as ironic, deeply clueless comments, so hearing of his death sent me to Poem Hunter to look up some of his poems. I have read one now and then, but that’s the extent of my familiarity with his work. The very first one listed was so fitting for the service I’ve been planning for Sunday that I want to excerpt it for our centering words. It must be one of his best-known, because I’ve read it before.
Love After Love
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.
I was also very moved by “R.T.S.L. (1917-1977).”
On poking around on the internet, I discovered that Walcott lost a position at Oxford when charges of past sexual harassment (which he had not disputed) were pointed out. Good. I don’t think someone who has used his position at a previous university to try to coerce students into sex should be hired by another university. And we can still love his poetry and admire whatever in him enabled him to write it. Last Sunday, speaking about issues of history and morality raised by the debates about renaming buildings that honor people we no longer consider worthy of such an honor, I made the uncontroversial pronouncement that there are no saints. The prospect of using, in the service, the lovely words of someone who abused people so badly is where that rubber meets the road.