NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Vol 17.2: Fall 2017 - Page 52

essay Like a wrestler caught in a surprise grip we are rendered momentarily dumb, astonished by our helplessness. Only gradually do we return to the surface of things. For some people, the Derek Walcott poem they will remember most is ‘Love After Love’ from 1976’s Sea Grapes. But for me there is something about the final, untitled poem of 2010’s White Egrets. The poem first appeared in 2007 in The New York Review of Books under the heading, ‘This Page Is A Cloud’. It is a poem Walcott built up to over the course of a lifetime. What is so special about it? Let’s read it: This page is a cloud between whose fraying edges a headland with mountains appears brokenly then is hidden again until what emerges from the now cloudless blue is the grooved sea and the whole self-naming island, its ochre verges, its shadow-plunged valleys and a coiled road threading the fishing villages, the white, silent surges of combers along the coast, where a line of gulls has arrowed into the widening harbour of a town with no noise, its streets growing closer like print you can now read, two cruise ships, schooners, a tug, ancestral canoes, as a cloud slowly covers the page and it goes white again and the book comes to a close. Just as Schopenhauer asks us to imagine the world being generated by an idea, Walcott requires us to commit to thoughts becoming real in our hands. We look at the page, consider the block of text. We are given a bird’s eye view of the terrain, inhabiting the perspective of the titular white egrets of the book. It all unfurls: the colors of the land, the shapes of valleys, the curves of roads, the serenity of fishing villages. This is a dreamscape. The poet simultaneously casts and breaks his spell: we succumb to the world of the poem, its lines and language, but then the suspension of disbelief is broken. Suddenly there is a book in our hands. Poetry has seemingly engendered an object, the same object that provides its genesis. This is a return to the source of all poetry: to the idea of the poet as a maker of things. What is also telling about the poem is how it alludes to the great concerns of Walcott’s oeuvre without explicitly stating them: history, nature, love. This is not just a picaresque tour. Nor is it a quaint descriptive list. Each item is a symbol, alluding equally to myth as well as social context. The fishing villages are the settings for ancient odysseys and for the industrial-colonial processes that shaped the Caribbean’s history. And here, what is at first beautiful becomes dangerous. There are shadows stalking the land; ѡɽ́)͹qձ́́ɽݕt)՝ѥͥٔѡ)ɑ́ɹ́ݕ́ѡ)ɽ́ѡɥ́ѥ)ȁ٥مQ͕́ɍ)ɸqݥɉȳtq)ѽݸݥѠ͔tqɕ́ɽݥ)͕ˊt́ѽѡ݅䁥)ɹѡЁ́Ѡȁͼ)хɥ]qɅϊt)ȰЁ́́ѡ՝ѥ)ɥ́͡ፅمѕ])ٔɽ͕ٕȸ ѡѥݔ)ɥٔЁѡͥ̀qՐ)ͱݱ䁍ٕ́ѡЁ̀)ݡєѡ́Ѽ)͗tݔٔͽɥѥ)ɹ䰁Ʌٕɕ屔)ѡɽ՝չ䰁ѡɽ՝(qݡєͥЁɝϊtѡɽ՝)ѡɽ՝̸QЁѡ)́́ѡѡ䁉)ȁ́́ЁхѥѼѡ)ѡѠȁѡЁ́ͭ)́ѼɕЁѡ)ȁٕ́ѡɕم)ѡѕɱ)Qɽ՝Ё́ɕȰ])͕݅́ȁ͕ȁѼѡ)́ɕ͕́ɔ%a d)Չ͡׊éQ х݅䰁)ɥѕ́qՑչՑ)ͥݡѕѡ́)tQ)ϊéѽɅѡ)1ٕ́($YɅ̰ݡɔѡѡ͕($ɔЁ䁅͕Ёѕ($ѡѡȁP($$ɔ($չѥѡ́e($͡Ё)QéQMхȵ-)ٕ́̃aQM%́!ѽdݡɔ+qѡЁɹ̻t)Q́хɥ)͍ ЁߊẽaQ9ɱd)ɕѥ́͡qݡͽ)ٕ́ӊéɐѼɸt)Qх́ٔɅ͕ѡ)ȁ́́ѼЁѡ)ЁЁݥѡи (ߊéQ չ䰃qՐ͔́)tɕ͔ѼՕи)$eЁѡЁͥЁѡ)]Ё́]єɕ́ݥѠѡ)Qɽ՝Ёѡѥ)ɵ͕́ѡЁЁݥ́Ё)!䁡ٔЁх٥ͥ)ѡ́́́ЁՉ͡)]́ѕ̰QA)ɕ]ЀL̰݅)Չ͡аѡ́ɽ՝)ݸѡхQᡥɅѥ)5ɹAɅ݅)ЁѼ 䁕ݥѠѡ)չѥѱ]Ёѕ̸́)1ͽȁɹݥѠѡ)ɕѥ͡ݕ̰Յ)ɕ䰁͕́ѡɅ՝Ёɽ)ɕѼͬ́Ѽͥ)ݡЁ́ɔɕ聱ՅȁݡЁ)͍ɥ1ȁѠ!́ݽɑ̰)ȁѡѡЁ́)ȁ]ݔ͔ѡЁ)ݡЁ́ѼѡЁ)́ݽɑݡЁ́Ѽ)ݔ͕ѡݽɱɽչ)ɕ́͠ɸMܰ)ݡٕȁ$ɕѡ́$ٕ)ٔи$݅́ͬɔи)$Ёɸѡ)M=5Q%5L)չ̸́Q䁅́ݔ)ЁѼɕͥаЁ̸)]䁹Ёչх)̸́) ɔ )QɹQ1ЁA