By Susan Ring, Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom
A suite of serious essays talk about the works of the Trinidadian writer.
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Additional info for Derek Walcott (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
The poems from his early books, In a Green Light, Selected Poems (1964), and The Castaway and Other Poems (1965) reveal his mystic sense of place and a lush imagination which is always poised against a high eloquence. In an extraordinary early poem, “Origins,” he is already able to create a language that can contain one of his major concerns—the creation myth of his native place. His ability to discover the sources of a hitherto unnamed place puts him in the company of the lyrical epic poets of the Western hemisphere, especially Whitman and Neruda.
Anyone who has seen Greece will recognize the literal truth of the wind-bent olive trees, the dry gray rocks, and the sea issuing in spray out of hill-caves. Walcott’s native sea almonds are there to establish the foreignness of the climber, as he thinks back to another point of reference; the Cyclops is there to establish the climber as a reader (a point necessary later in the poem). The periodic sentence (“Beyond this, over that, past the next thing, I climbed”) is there to enact syntactically the long ascent.
And the memory in this poem is that of a collective mind and an intimately personal one. The texture, color, tone of the poet’s childhood on St. Lucia and his rites of initiation into manhood and art are matched by a language so rich and sensuous that one feels in it that rare balance between the personal life and the fully metaphorical meaning of that life. Consequently, the poem is balanced between its narrative elements—the people, places, and events that have shaped the poet’s life (his mother’s house, the local townsfolk who become his heroes, his soul-mate the drunken painter Gregorias, his discovery of his history, his metaphorical marriage)—and the lyrical transﬁgurations of those elements.
Derek Walcott (Bloom's Modern Critical Views) by Susan Ring, Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom