16 May 2013

Poetry Thursday - Midsummer, Tobago by Derek Walcott

Midsummer, Tobago

Broad sun-stoned beaches.
White heat.
A green river.
A bridge,
scorched yellow palms
from the summer-sleeping house
drowsing through August.
Days I have held,
days I have lost,
days that outgrow, like daughters,
my harbouring arms.

                   Derek Walcott 

When I read this in World Poems on the Underground, the image that came to mind was a painting of a drifting canoe - by Chris Ofili, I thought, but no - Ofili has painted tropical scenes, but more of a deep blue heat than a white heat. No, it was Peter Doig who painted "my" canoe - he lives in Trinidad now (as anyone who has gone through Canadian winters might want to do) - before moving there he had been in Trinidad together with Ofili on a residency, and Ofili lives there now too
The canoe I remember, or seem to remember, disappearing along a river that winds through a tropical forest, is not to be found (it's not this one; or these...). Instead, as a sort of illustration to the poem, here's "magic-realism" image by Doig that has a feel of the tropics -
"The Music of the Future" by Peter Doig (from here)
Read an analysis of the poem here. Walcott won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992.

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