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White Egrets: Poems Farrar Straus and Giroux Derek Walcott

30th June 2012 Literature & Fiction 0 Comments


In White Egrets, Derek Walcott treats the characteristic subjects of his careerthe Caribbeans complex colonial legacy, his love of the Western literary tradition, the wisdom that comes through the passing of time, the always strange joys of new love, and the sometimes terrifying beauty of the natural worldwith an intensity and drive that recall his greatest work. Through the mesmerizing repetition of theme and imagery, Walcott creates an almost surflike cadence, broadening the possibilities of rhyme and meter, poetic form and language.

White Egrets is a moving new collection from one of the most important poets of the twentieth centurya celebration of the life and language of the West Indies. It is also a triumphant paean to beauty, love, art, andperhaps most surprisinglygetting older.

From Nobel Prize–winner Walcott comes a 14th collection of poems, richly textured in sound and image, and spanning many countries and memories. From his native Caribbean to Italy, Spain, England, the Netherlands, and the United States, Walcott meditates on the passage of time, fallen empires, bygone love affairs, and mortality. Throughout, in metrically complex verses, he writes about the vocation of the poet with a virtuosic ear and a painterly eye (Walcott is also an accomplished watercolor and oil painter): my craft and my craft’s thought make parallels/ from every object, the word and the shadow of the word/ makes a thing both itself and something else/ til we are metaphors and not ourselves/ in an empirical language that keeps growing. Walcott describes a wistful search for home in these poems—Silly to think of heritage when there isn’t much, he writes—while also expressing deep joy and thanks that he finds his true and permanent home in poetry. This is poetry’s weather, he says of a rainy day in Venice, a lovely moment in a beautiful book. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

*Starred Review* Long, lush, yet battering poems that surge and retract and return like the sea, like breath, are Nobel laureate Walcotts forte. In his fourteenth collection, he curves this grand form away from the epic and toward the personal, examining the ruins of love and the puzzles of age as he enters his eightieth year. The title poem, punctuated by stalking egrets and clattering parrots and revved by a tree-tossing storm, is part elegy and part rhapsody and includes this artists credo: The perpetual ideal is astonishment. That is the state of being Walcott summons as he takes measure of yearning, regrets, and resistance to turmoil, reveling, instead, in the exaltation of earth, sky, and ocean as birds embody feelings and poetry itself. In gorgeous evocations of placeSicily, Spain, Italy, London, New York, AmsterdamWalcott writes of the nausea of absence, then rejects despair in a startling moment of connection, addressing, You, my dearest friend, Reader. His tropes swoop in like birds returning to roost, winged words in jazzy riffs that lift and plunge, flashing light and shadow as Walcott, a not-unscarred literary warrior reports, I have kept the same furies. And, looking ahead, So much to do still, all of it praise. –Donna Seaman –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

White Egrets: Poems

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