Sunday, December 02, 2007

On Reading Walcott's "Omeros"

HowardM2, from PFFA, referred me to this Cecil Gray's poem on reading Walcott:

"On Reading 'Omeros'"
February 1991

The patio bent its hooked finger to hold us,
an ell collectiong our thoughts in its corner,
particles of faith we had that a poet
at the helm of his craft could unfix
the blank stare aimed at things in his mirror.

Each slow lift of the head raised the question
whose ears turned, whose eyes showed recognition,
who listened from here and heard and applauded
him lifting like Atlas the stones of these islands
from the indifferent slap of the ocean.

Pulling in nets we caught worlds that his pen had
created and found our little green places
drawn with strokes of his words on maps of the globe.
A sunrise of pride suffused us. but faces
clouded with queries and quickly changed season.

Our sentences cried. Are aloof New York Times
reviewers blinded by stereotypes, unravellers
of metaphors smelt from links of our chain?
Are they, by proxy, readers that strain at the seine
while the catch that is ours drifts without owners?

We sat and we wondered what gives him the power
that labours unpraised by these cays. Distant sounds
of thunder responded. Not for praise nor garlands
does he shape a village. Love sustains every image
and serves, like communion, every word on the page.

--Cecil Gray

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