Poet's Choice

By Robert pinsky
Sunday, May 6, 2007

A new Selected Poems from a long-established, much-honored poet provides a new generation of readers with the opportunity to scan a career. A selection also encourages experienced readers to recall earlier parts of the career, to rediscover poems. From the recent Selected Poems of Derek Walcott, edited by Edward Baugh, here is Walcott's title poem from the earlier volume Sea Grapes, published in 1976 -- many years before Walcott took up Homeric material, transformed to a Caribbean setting, in his book-length poem Omeros:


That sail which leans on light,

tired of islands,

a schooner beating up the Caribbean

for home, could be Odysseus,

home-bound on the Aegean;

that father and husband's

longing, under gnarled sour grapes, is

like the adulterer hearing Nausicaa's name

in every gull's outcry.

This brings nobody peace. The ancient war

between obsession and responsibility

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