Derek Walcott Biographical Essay

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He was eager to incorporate native elements, "chants, jokes, folk-songs, and fables," into his dramas;" to write powerfully … so that the large emotions could be taken in by a fisherman or a guy on the street"; "to get something clean and simple into my plays …

something Caribbean"; and to achieve a balance "between defiance and translation." The central character of (1979), a retired schoolteacher of Port of Spain who loses one son to a revolution, another to the "slower death" of art, may reflect his powerful, if conflicting, loyalties.

Nevertheless, Caribbean rhythms, themes, and idioms inevitably find their way into the verse—through vivid dialect personae like Shabine, the sailor in (1979), often regarded as the poet's alter-ego; in the perennially anguished voice of a "divided child," "schizophrenic, wrenched by two styles," that lurks beneath the cosmopolitan surface.

Walcott's range as a poet was remarkably varied and generous.

Now that other races and other causes in the babel of the republic have been given permission to speak in the very language that ruled and defined them, must everything be revised by the new order?

Does Frost's ironic, jocular accent not apply to them?

(1981) the poet chronicled provocative journeys of self-discovery through New England and the American South to Dachau and other places that illuminate his sense of himself as artist and man.

The 54 separate poems in (1987) contains a stunning love sequence, along with the powerful title work, a further exploration of the poet's role as racial and cultural exile.

What the Twilight Says collects these pieces to form a volume of remarkable elegance, concision, and brilliance. On every subject he takes up, Walcott the essayist brings to bear the lyric power and syncretic intelligence that have made him one of the major poetic voices of our time.

It includes Walcott's moving and insightful examinations of the paradoxes of Caribbean culture, his Nobel lecture, and his reckoning of the work and significance of such poets as Robert Lowell, Joseph Brodsky, Robert Frost, Les Murray, and Ted Hughes, and of prose writers such as V. The original language dissolves from the exhaustion of distance like fog trying to cross an ocean, but this process of renaming, of finding new metaphors, is the same process that the poet faces every morning of his working day, making his own tools like Crusoe, assembling nouns from necessity, from Felicity, even renaming himself.

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