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White Egrets by Derek Walcott
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White Egrets

by Derek Walcott

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These poems are clearly the product of his later years (this book first came out in 2010) - the themes of aging and dying are pronounced throughout. I would love to now read some of his earlier work for comparison. I love the way Walcott uses color and images from nature in his poetry, especially the egrets that appear in many of these poems. I will just quote the closing sentences from the second verse of the poem "In the Village" about Greenwich Village in New York City:

"                                                 ​It is the hell
of ordinary, unrequited love. Watch those egrets
trudging the lawn in a dishevelled troop, white banners
trailing forlornly; they are the bleached regrets
of an old man's memoirs, printed stanzas
showing their hinged wings like wide open secrets."
( )
  leslie.98 | Feb 9, 2014 |
Latin name -Ardea alba

Family - Bitterns and herons(Ardeidae)

The Great White Egret, is almost identical to little Egrets, but obviously they are much larger – around the same size as a Grey Heron. The identification features to be aware of are, black feet as opposed to yellow, and a yellow beak (in juvenile and non-breeding plumage), they also use a different fishing technique like that of the grey heron, living off fish, insects and frogs, caught by spearing with its long, sharp beak.





White Egrets is also the title of the Fourteenth collection of poetry from Derek Walcott. Born in St Lucia in 1930, he studied at the University College of the West Indies (Kingston, Jamaica). Walcott published his first poem at 14 and by 19 had self-published his two first collections - 25 Poems (1948) and Epitaph for the Young: XII Cantos (1949) which he distributed himself. But it was his collection - In a Green Night: Poems 1948-1960 (1962) exploring the Caribbean and it’s history in a colonialist and post-colonialist context that saw him gain an international public profile. He has since published eight collections of plays, a collection of essays, as well as his volumes of poetry, including an epic poem (Omeros), in which he invokes the spirit and people of his homeland through Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. In 1992 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, he is also an honorary member of the American Academy and the Institute of Arts and Letters.

This his latest collection won this years T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, the chair for this years prize was Anne Stevenson & she said that

"the judges felt that Derek Walcott's White Egrets was a moving, risk-taking and technically flawless book by a great poet."

In this collection of poetry, “Derek Walcott treats his characteristic subjects – the Caribbean’s complex colonial legacy, the Western artistic tradition, the blessings and withholdings of old Europe (Andalucía, the Mezzogiorno, Amsterdam), the unaccommodating sublime of the new world, times cunning passages, the poets place in all of this – with a passionate intensity and drive that rivals his greatest work” .

Yet reading these poems you soon realise another figure stalks the landscape, that with the passing of time, there’s loss, there’s death, whether this is of friends, or the death of love, or just unrequited love, stillborn with regret. In these beautiful poems you get visions of a man looking back on his life, looking back with regret, with humour, but looking back from the perspective that this may be his last call, but this is a not a legacy, there is too much passion for that.

http://parrishlantern.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/white-egrets-by-derek-walcott.html ( )
1 vote parrishlantern | Jun 29, 2012 |
A significant departure for Walcott. This mature, reflective work examines his past and the colonial history of the Caribbean in rhymed verse. This is elegiac, thoughtful, philosophical poetry. A work for the ages. ( )
  Fledgist | Aug 17, 2011 |
This superb collection of poetry by Nobel laureate Derek Walcott won the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry last year. It describes a man heading toward the end of his life, filled with the life and death of others, past and relatively current events such as 9/11, the election of Barack Obama, postcolonialism and post-postcolonialism in Africa, India, and the Caribbean, and post-Franco Spain, with frequent references to nature and his travels around the world. One especially touching poem is "Sixty Years After":

In my wheelchair in the Virgin lounge at Vieuxfort
I saw, sitting in her own wheelchair, her beauty
hunched like a crumpled flower, the one whom I thought
as the fire of my young life would do her duty
to be golden and beautiful and young forever
even as I aged. She was treble-chinned, old, her devastating
smile was netted in wrinkles, but I felt the fever
briefly returning as we sat there, crippled, hating
time and the lie of general pleasantries.
Small waves still break against the small stone pier
where a boatman left me in the orange peace
of dusk, a half-century ago, maybe happier
being erect, she like a deer in her shyness, I stalking
an impossible consummation; those who knew us
knew we would never be together, at least not walking.
Now the silent knives from the intercom went through us. ( )
2 vote kidzdoc | Jul 15, 2011 |
White Egrets by Derek Walcott is a collection of deeply suggestive and blatant poems about the natural cycle of birth, life, and death and coming to terms with the later as friends, lovers, and others pass away leaving the narrator behind on the journey of life. Each poem uses nature imagery to paint a canvas of emotion as the narrator grapples with grief, joy, and memory.

Walcott’s poems are long and narrative in many cases, which is not a form or style that calls to every reader, but even the most picky reader can easily pick out the cues that will carry them throughout the multiple part poems.

Read the full review: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2011/04/white-egrets-by-derek-walcott.html ( )
1 vote sagustocox | Apr 17, 2011 |
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For Stephanos, Matteo, Bobby, Vanni, Caz and Glyn
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The chessmen are as rigid on their chessboard

as those life-sized terra-cotta warriors whose vows

to their emperor with bridle, shield and sword

were sworn by a chorus that has lost its voice;

no echo in that astonishing excavation.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374289298, Hardcover)

A DAZZLING NEW COLLECTION FROM ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT POETS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

In White Egrets, Derek Walcott treats the characteristic subjects of his career—the Caribbean’s complex colonial legacy, his love of the Western literary tradition, the wisdom that comes through the passing of time, the always strange joys of new love, and the sometimes terrifying beauty of the natural world—with an intensity and drive that recall his greatest work. Through the mesmerizing repetition of theme and imagery, Walcott creates an almost surflike cadence, broadening the possibilities of rhyme and meter, poetic form and language.

White Egrets is a moving new collection from one of the most important poets of the twentieth century—a celebration of the life and language of the West Indies. It is also a triumphant paean to beauty, love, art, and—perhaps most surprisingly—getting older.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:00 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In this work, the poet treats the characteristic subjects of his career, the Caribbean's complex colonial legacy, his love of the Western literary tradition, the wisdom that comes through the passing of time, the always strange joys of new love, and the sometimes terrifying beauty of the natural world, with an intensity and drive that recall his greatest work. Through the mesmerizing repetition of theme and imagery, he creates an almost surflike cadence, broadening the possibilities of rhyme and meter, poetic form and language. This work is a moving new collection from one of the most important poets of the twentieth century, a celebration of the life and language of the West Indies. It is also a triumphant paean to beauty, love, art, and, perhaps most surprisingly, getting older.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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