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Selected Poems

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  207 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Drawing from every stage of the Nobel laureate's career, Derek Walcott's Selected Poems brings together famous pieces from his early volumes, including "A Far Cry from Africa" and "A City's Death by Fire," with passages from the celebrated Omeros and selections from his latest major works, which extend his contributions to reenergizing the contemporary long poem. Here we f ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published December 26th 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1964)
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Apr 22, 2008 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autographed
Nice collection of a lifetime of work. Many of Walcott's poems are very long, so excerpts are taken from those. The occasional French was an impediment for me, but the lyrical qualities were nice. Walcott is detailed to a fault and brings color and energy to the scenes he depicts. People who prefer short, sparse poems will be overwhelmed by Walcott's epic lengths, but those who enjoy literary allusions will be in their element.
Aug 06, 2015 Hundeschlitten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful collection of poems spanning over 50 years of Walcott's career. I prefer the early-mid period, and the evocations of his life as a mulatto on the Caribbean. "Omeros," a later work for which he won the Nobel Prize, really didn't do much for me. It was too ponderous, too ready to shit marble in its attempt to symbolize an entire people in the telling of what should have been a simple sea tale. But for 30 years, from "Castaway" through "Midsummer," Walcott really rocks it. Powerful yet ...more
Sep 27, 2014 Val rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: global-extra
I don't know much about poetry, but even I can tell that these are very good.
They are selected from Walcott's work over a lifetime and we can see how his style changed, becoming more accessible and apparently simpler over the years. I suspect that writing a simple, accessible poem requires more skill. He brings many influences into his poems, this is fusion poetry not vernacular, evolving not fixed in some theoretical concept of roots. One quote from Walcott expresses that as,
'Break a vase, and
Apr 06, 2015 Tyler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The poetry is pretty good.

It's mixed with Caribbean, European, and American elements that wrap together to give a sense of an author struggling to understand himself and the world around him.

Spends too much time on trying to find what's not really there though, giving a sense of paranoia that is subtle in the poetry. It's not really enjoyable, but tedious.
Aug 09, 2014 Salvatore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm now a fan. Curious that in this collection, Walcott moves from free verse to rhyme as he ages, with more self-awareness and less immediately striking material. And that longform narrative becomes more important in his poetry. I'm converted.
Feb 12, 2012 Jackie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love after Love ~ 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 not
Oct 06, 2009 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first poem in this collection is already into Dante, so I'm a big fan of that. I've found that Walcott's poetry is deceptively simple at times. I've had to read, and re-read poems to push beyond my first perception. I'd leave the poem saying yeah, that was the right interpretation wasn't it. Then I'd think about it for a second, and return to the poem and come up with a bit more. The poem would shift under my feet, and I'm pretty sure that Walcott designs them to do that - though I'm not sur ...more
Louise Chambers
Walcott's poems are like reading a story; so different than the many short line contemporary poems.

It's a discipline and a wonderful one, allowing the lyrical quality of the poem's form to shine through. It was a bit like reading Shakespeare or Coleridge, the language is a bit "foreign" yet presses comfortably upon the ear and mind like a warm summer breeze.

I definitely want to check this one out again from the library, and to also check out some of Walcott's plays.
Jul 18, 2011 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We went to St. Lucia for our honeymoon and Walcott won the nobel prize so I figured I should read his poetry while there. It was nice to go around the island and read the poems about places we were visiting. Also, interesting to note that Lauren is from Fayetville Arkansas and he has a whole series of poems about that.
Rashad Raoufi
its a combination of some very poweful poems, a nobel prize well deserved and he would have been amazing as oxford professor of poetry, its oxford's loss! some of the poems are so moving, others are unashamedly to the point, brilliant imagery and some nearly made me cry.
Jun 02, 2014 Tyler rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Like some poems, bored by others, confused by others, hated others. I definitely liked this better than the modern/feminist type poets I studied simultaneously in my other English class fall semester 2013.

A Far Cry from Africa
Sea Grapes
Sep 16, 2008 Jeni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
simply stunning, in breadth and depth. recommended in a talk by mark strand as almost categorically "the greatest living poet today," and while I admit I haven't read widely enough to share that endorsement, walcott is on my short (short) list.
Tse Guang
Apr 29, 2014 Tse Guang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walcott can make me cry. There, I said it.
Isaac Timm
Dec 12, 2012 Isaac Timm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2012
Finished the lions share of these. Derek Walcott is amazing and should stand higher on the literary pedestal then he does. I truly global writer, play-write and poet.
I just cannot shake off the negative bias for this collection because it made my Literature life miserable at A'Level.
Matthew Hittinger
It's hard to do a good selected for a poet who loves the epic.
Hit the snooze alarm on this a few times.
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  • Selected Poems
  • A Worldly Country
  • Poet's Choice
  • Modern Life
  • Selected Poems
  • Dearest Creature
  • The Selected Poems
  • Repair
  • Time and Materials
  • Selected Prose
  • Recyclopedia: Trimmings / S*PeRM**K*T / Muse and Drudge
  • Rumi: A New Translation
  • The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy
  • Averno
  • The Rest of Love
  • The Blizzard Voices
  • Killing the Black Dog
  • Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000
Derek Walcott is a Caribbean poet, playwright, writer and visual artist. Born in Castries, St. Lucia, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 "for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment."

His work, which developed independently of the schools of magic realism emerging in both South America and Europe at around the time
More about Derek Walcott...

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“Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?
Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,
in that gray vault. The sea. The sea
has locked them up. The sea is History.

First, there was the heaving oil,
heavy as chaos;
then, likea light at the end of a tunnel,

the lantern of a caravel,
and that was Genesis.
Then there were the packed cries,
the shit, the moaning:

Bone soldered by coral to bone,
mantled by the benediction of the shark's shadow,

that was the Ark of the Covenant.
Then came from the plucked wires
of sunlight on the sea floor

the plangent harp of the Babylonian bondage,
as the white cowries clustered like manacles
on the drowned women,

and those were the ivory bracelets
of the Song of Solomon,
but the ocean kept turning blank pages

looking for History.
Then came the men with eyes heavy as anchors
who sank without tombs,

brigands who barbecued cattle,
leaving their charred ribs like palm leaves on the shore,
then the foaming, rabid maw

of the tidal wave swallowing Port Royal,
and that was Jonah,
but where is your Renaissance?

Sir, it is locked in them sea sands
out there past the reef's moiling shelf,
where the men-o'-war floated down;

strop on these goggles, I'll guide you there myself.
It's all subtle and submarine,
through colonnades of coral,

past the gothic windows of sea fans
to where the crusty grouper, onyx-eyed,
blinks, weighted by its jewels, like a bald queen;

and these groined caves with barnacles
pitted like stone
are our cathedrals,

and the furnace before the hurricanes:
Gomorrah. Bones ground by windmills
into marl and cornmeal,

and that was Lamentations -
that was just Lamentations,
it was not History;

then came, like scum on the river's drying lip,
the brown reeds of villages
mantling and congealing into towns,

and at evening, the midges' choirs,
and above them, the spires
lancing the side of God

as His son set, and that was the New Testament.

Then came the white sisters clapping
to the waves' progress,
and that was Emancipation -

jubilation, O jubilation -
vanishing swiftly
as the sea's lace dries in the sun,

but that was not History,
that was only faith,
and then each rock broke into its own nation;

then came the synod of flies,
then came the secretarial heron,
then came the bullfrog bellowing for a vote,

fireflies with bright ideas
and bats like jetting ambassadors
and the mantis, like khaki police,

and the furred caterpillars of judges
examining each case closely,
and then in the dark ears of ferns

and in the salt chuckle of rocks
with their sea pools, there was the sound
like a rumour without any echo

of History, really beginning.”
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