Derek Walcott (1930-2017) Tribute List

Nobel laureate Derek Walcott died on March 17, 2017. Born on St. Lucia to two schoolteachers, he grew up realizing that "if you learned poetry, you shouted it out." Read this list aloud to hear his lyrical rhythms of the sea of life.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. veranda
    a porch along the outside of a building
    for what else is there
    but books, books and the sea,
    verandahs and the pages of the sea,
    to write of the wind and the memory
    of wind-whipped hair
    in the sun, the colour of fire?
    —from "Another Life"
  2. monument
    a structure erected to commemorate persons or events
    Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?
    Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,
    in that grey vault. The sea. The sea
    has locked them up. The sea is History.
    —from "The Sea Is History"
  3. wax
    go up or advance
    By the smoking sea, where Christ walked, I asked, why
    Should a man wax tears, when his wooden world fails?
    —from "A City's Death by Fire"
  4. passage
    a journey usually by ship
    Yet others who now watch my progress outward,
    On a sea which is crueller than any word
    Of love, may see in me the calm my passage makes,
    Braving new water in an antique hoax
    —from "The Harbour"
  5. channel
    a deep and relatively narrow body of water
    That Albion too was once
    A colony like ours, "part of the continent, piece of the main,"
    Nook-shotten, rook o'erblown, deranged
    By foaming channels and the vain expense
    Of bitter faction.
    —from "Ruins of a Great House"
  6. obsession
    an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something
    This brings nobody peace. The ancient war
    between obsession and responsibility
    will never finish and has been the same
    for the sea-wanderer or the one on shore
    now wriggling on his sandals to walk home
    —from "Sea Grapes"
  7. cerulean
    deep blue like the color of a clear sky
    One morning the Caribbean was cut up
    by seven prime ministers who bought the sea in bolts—
    one thousand miles of aquamarine with lace trimmings,
    one million yards of lime-colored silk,
    one mile of violet, leagues of cerulean satin—
    who sold it at a markup to the conglomerates
    —from "The Star-Apple Kingdom"
  8. tributary
    a branch that flows into the main stream
    From frozen Neva to the Hudson pours,
    under the airport domes, the echoing stations,
    the tributary of emigrants whom exile
    has made as classless as the common cold,
    citizens of a language that is now yours
    —from "Forest of Europe"
  9. patois
    a regional dialect of a language
    and O was the conch-shell's invocation, mer was
    both mother and sea in our Antillean patois,
    os, a grey bone, and the white surf as it crashes
    —from Book One of "Omeros"
  10. inheritance
    something that passes by law to an heir of the owner
    our only inheritance that elemental noise
    of the windward, unbroken breakers, Ithaca's
    or Africa's, all joining the ocean's voice,
    because this is the Atlantic now, this great design
    of the triangular trade.
    —from Book Two of "Omeros"
  11. yearn
    have a desire for something or someone who is not present
    Everything was forgotten. You also. I do not know.
    The deaf sea has changed around every name that you gave
    us; trees, men, we yearn for a sound that is missing.
    —from Book Three of "Omeros"
  12. swift
    a small bird that is noted for its rapid flight
    The sea-swift vanishes in rain,
    and yet in its travelling all that the sea-swift does
    it does in a circular pattern.
    —from Book Four of "Omeros"
  13. arc
    something curved in shape
    when the arc of an empire was
    flung over both colonies, wider than the seine
    a fisherman hurls over a bay at sunrise,
    but all colonies inherit their empire's sin,
    and these, who broke free of the net, enmeshed a race.
    —from Book Five of "Omeros"
  14. suture
    join with a seam used in surgery
    he scooped the bucket
    and emptied the bilge with its leaves of manchineel,
    thinking of the stitched, sutured wound that Philoctete
    was given by the sea, but how the sea could heal
    the wound also.
    —from Book Six of "Omeros"
  15. epilogue
    a short passage added at the end of a literary work
    let the deep hymn
    of the Caribbean continue my epilogue
    —from Book Seven of "Omeros"

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