(No.65 of my favourite short poems)
Sir Derek Alton Walcott was born in the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia in 1930. Although a widely respected painter, he is best known as both a poet and playwright. He received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex from 2010 to 2013. He won a MacArthur “genius” award, the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, and many other literary honours. He died in St Lucia in 2017.
Composed in free verse, without rhyme or any regular poetic metre, this lovely short poem celebrates the self as finally accepting who and what we are. Life experience can bring sadness, but there is hope for redemption and an optimistic future. We can and do change, and are ultimately able to show our true self.
Love After Love – Poem 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.
Below are links to two, quite different, readings of this poem from YouTube . . .