We lost poet Derek Walcott last week. He was from Saint Lucia in the West Indies. His poetry won him much acclaim and many awards through the years. Most notably, he was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.
His masterpiece is said to be a book-length poem called Omeros that was published to much critical praise in 1990. It is loosely based on the work of Homer and some of his major characters from The Iliad.
Many of his poems are quite long. In looking for a shorter one to feature here, I found "Love After Love," which I quite like. It seems to say to me that we can lose ourselves when we rely on others to verify our existence. We can too easily forget the only person who is with us throughout our lives. We forget and neglect our own selves. Walcott urges us to "Give back your heart to itself," and to "Feast on your life."
Love After Love
by Derek Walcott
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.