Derek Walcott “Love after Love”

Poetry really can save your life. That’s what Kim Rosen says in Saved by a Poem. And she’s right. I know. I am saved almost daily by the Sufi mystical poet, Hafiz, or David Whyte or, Derek Walcott. Today, I learned from my good friend, The Writer’s Almanac, is Derek Walcott’s birthday. A celebration is in order, don’t you think?

Here’s a Derek Walcott poem that saved my life. I love it so much I painted it in white chalk paint on an indigo wall in my bathroom. These words bless me every day.

Love After Love

The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in yoru 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 image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Aaaah, I feel saved just reading that as I type. What poem saved or continues to save your life?

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9 Comments on “Derek Walcott “Love after Love””

  1. jeni says:

    I love this!

  2. Linda Bryant says:

    Janet: I always enjoy reading your blog. It kind of felt like after the focus and intensity of December’s blog posts and exercises there was going to be a big void. Not as many posts, you went to California etc. Of course every month can’t be like December! When I read this today, I got the same magical hit I felt in December. Thank you!

    I am a huge fan of the gentle poet, William Stafford. His work, including his books about writing, have sustained me in my own development as a poet over many years. Here is one that has been helping recently.

    Ask me

    Some time when the river is ice ask me
    mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
    what I have done is my life. Others
    have come in their slow way into
    my thought, and some have tried to help
    or to hurt: ask me what difference
    their strongest love or hate has made.

    I will listen to what you say.
    You and I can turn and look
    at the silent river and wait. We know
    the current is there, hidden; and there
    are comings and goings from miles away
    that hold the stillness exactly before us.
    What the river says, that is what I say.

    —William Stafford

    • janetconner says:

      It’s true, I didn’t blog during my CA trip. too too busy. I can’t blog every day like I did in December (My publisher, by the way, wants to see a proposal to turn the Dec Plan into a book. My editor lit up when I mentioned it.) Today was a spontaneous response to Derek Walcott’s birthday. I hope to get into a more natural rythmn of blogging three times a week. That feels about right. I think I’ll ask readers to post THEIR favorite poems. I love this one you sent. Next I think I’ll post David Whyte.

      • Linda Bryant says:

        I don’t expect every months to be like December was. I mean it was spiritual cheesecake! I love your blog no matter what. I’m not surprised that the December Plan is the launching pad for a book. That was really the sense I had while following it. So amazing, really. Speaking of things that came down in December, I was chuckling about Ass In Chair (AIC) writing credentials today. That one is going to stick with me!

  3. Linda Bryant says:

    I am going to give a double shot potion of William Stafford. Here’s another I love just as much as the first one.

    A Valley Like This

    Sometimes you look at an empty valley like this, and suddenly the air is filled with snow.
    That is the way the whole world happened —
    there was nothing, and then…

    But maybe some time you will look out and even
    the mountains are gone, the world becoming nothing again. What can a person do to help
    bring back the world?

    We have to watch it and then look at each other.
    Together we hold it close and carefully
    save it, like a bubble that can disappear
    if we don’t watch out.

    Please think about this as you go on.
    Breathe on the world.
    Hold out your hands to it.
    When the mornings and evenings roll along,
    watch how they open and close, how they
    invite you to the long party that your life is.

    — William Stafford

  4. Selina says:

    Wonderful poem… Happy Birthday Derek Walcott. Thank you Janet for sharing this beautiful poem. I will share as well!

  5. Gideon Cecil says:

    Happy Birthday Derek Walcott.Your poetry has been an inspiration to me for over 25 years.Your magnum opus ”The Omeros” brings back memories of the Greek epic poet Homer.You are indeed the Caribbean’s Homer and the living Homer of the World in this modern era.You are indeed blessed by the muses to write such immortal poetry.
    In the ages to come your eternal words will be remembered by the entire world.May God bless you on your 80th Birthday.

    By the Poet Gideon Cecil/author of ”The Revelation of Love”

    My web page:
    http://www.outskirtspress.com/CecilGideon

  6. Emma says:

    My favourite is Mark Strand… I repeat this poem to myself in the depths of winter, and it saves me because I know I’m not at the end of the poem yet =):

    Lines For Winter

    Tell yourself
    as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
    that you will go on
    walking, hearing
    the same tune no matter where
    you find yourself —
    inside the dome of dark
    or under the cracking white
    of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
    Tonight as it gets cold
    tell yourself
    what you know which is nothing
    but the tune your bones play
    as you keep going. And you will be able
    for once to lie down under the small fire
    of winter stars.
    And if it happens that you cannot
    go on or turn back and you find yourself
    where you will be at the end,
    tell yourself
    in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
    that you love what you are.


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