Country Focus: Saint Lucia
By Derek Walcott
Published by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2004.
About the author: Walcott won the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature and many other honors for his poetry, plays and essays. The Saint Lucian’s most notable work is Omeros, a Caribbean retelling of Homer’s The Iliad featuring rival fishermen.
Envy of statues; this is how it grew:
every day in Milan, en route to class,
I passed my rigid, immortal friend, the General,
on his morose green horse, still there on weekends.
The wars were over but he would not dismount.
Had he died, catapulted in some charge
in some euphonious battle? The bronze charger
was lathered, streaked with sweat, in the summer sun.
We had no such memorials on the island.
Our only cavalry were the charging waves,
pluming with spume, and tossing plunging necks.
Who knows what war he fought in and whose shot
tumbled his whinnying steed? Envy of fountains.
Poor hero on his island in the swirl of traffic,
denied the solace of an umbrageous linden
or chestnut with bright medals through its leaves.
Envy of columns. Calm. Envy of bells.
Peace widened the Sunday avenue in Milan.