I am not a fan of Derek Walcott, and here I get the usual DW routine of reading a poet who spends an inordinate amount of time trying to make what he sees, smells, hears, tastes interesting in themselves, blessed only with an excess of qualifiers that the poem becomes something like perfectly fine cup of coffee ruined with too many spoons of sugar. It's not that I haven't tried to get acquainted with the man's work; he did win the Nobel Prize for Literature, after all, and was at the time required reading for anyone thinking themselves up on poetry. The Nobel Committee isn't infallible, though, and matched Walcott prolix poetasting in 1992 with the selection of Dario Fo in 1997, a questionably lefty playwright I think never should have been allowed the small press.
THE SEASON OF PHANTASMAL PEACEby Derek Walcott,born in St. Lucia in 1930Then all the nations of birds lifted togetherthe huge net of the shadows of this earthin multitudinous dialects, twittering tongues,stitching and crossing it. They lifted upthe shadows of long pines down trackless slopes,the shadows of glass-faced towers down evening streets,the shadow of a frail plant on a city sill --the net rising soundless at night, the birds' cries soundless, untilthere was no longer dusk, or season, decline, or weather,only this passage of phantasmal lightthat not the narrowest shadow dared to sever.And men could not see, looking up, what the wild geese drew,what the ospreys trailed behind them in the silvery ropesthat flashed in the icy sunlight; they could not hearbattalions of starlings waging peaceful cries,bearing the net higher, covering this worldlike the vines of an orchard, or a mother drawingthe trembling gauze over the trembling eyesof a child fluttering to sleep;it was the lightthat you will see at evening on the side of a hillin yellow October, and no one hearing knewwhat change had brought into the raven's cawing,the killdeer's screech, the ember-circling choughsuch an immense, soundless, and high concernfor the fields and cities where the birds belong,except it was their seasonal passing, Love,made seasonless, or, from the high privilege of their birth,something brighter than pity for the wingless onesbelow them who shared dark holes in windows and in houses,and higher they lifted the net with soundless voicesabove all change, betrayals of falling suns,and this season lasted one moment, like the pausebetween dusk and darkness, between fury and peace,but, for such as our earth is now, it lasted long.