Guest poem submitted by Ameya Nagarajan:
(Poem #1319) Goats and Monkeys
'...even now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe.' -Othello The owl's torches gutter. Chaos clouds the globe. Shriek, augury! His earthen bulk buries her bosom in its slow eclipse. His smoky hand has charred that marble throat. Bent to her lips, he is Africa, a vast, sidling shadow that halves your world with doubt. 'Put out the light', and God's light is put out. That flame extinct, she contemplates her dream of him as huge as night, as bodiless, as starred with medals, like the moon a fable of blind stone. Dazzled by that bull's bulk agaisnt the sun of Cyprus, couldn't she have known like Pasiphae, poor girl, she'd breed horned monsters? That like Euyridice, her flesh a flare travelling the hellish labyrinth of his mind his soul would swallow hers? Her white flesh rhymes with night. She climbs, secure. Virgin and ape, maid and malevolent Moor, their immortal coupling still halves our world. He is your sacrificial beat, bellowing, goaded, a black bull snarled in ribbons of blood. And yet, whatever fury girded on the saffron-sunset turban, moon-shaped sword was not his racial, panther-black revenge pulsing her chamber with its raw musk, its sweat but horror of the moon's change, of the corruption of an absolute, like a white fruit pulped ripe by fondling but doubly sweet. And so he barbarously arraigns the moon for all she has beheld since time began for his own night-long lechery, ambition, while barren innocence whimpers for pardon. And it is still the moon, she silvers love, limns lechery and stares at our disgrace. Only annihilation can resolve the pure corruption in her dreaming face. A bestial, comic agony. We harden with mockery at this blackamoor who turns his back on her, who kills what, like the clear moon, cannot abhor her element, night; his grief farcially knotted in a handkerchief a sibyl's prophetically stitched rememberancer webbed and embroidered with the zodiac, this mythical, horned beast who's no more monstrous for being black.
Walcott is West Indian, from the island of St. Lucia. He came from a mixed family, with two white grandfathers and two black grandmothers. He grew up familiar with English and his problem is one faced by most post-colonial writers, he does not fit in the native tradition but he does not fit in the British traditon, and he is troubled both by his ease with the English language and his alienation from English experience. This poem rewrites Othello, and it is really interesting because its sympathetic to Othello while still granting him agency, Walcott completely deletes Iago and Othello is no longer a pawn. What I love most about Walcott is his almost intoxicating use of imagery. He does go overboard in one or two places, but most of the time he manages to pick the most evocative images to convey impressions. Call him impressionist if you wish! [Minstrels Links] Derek Walcott: Poem #993: "Midsummer, Tobago" Poem #1041: "The Schooner 'Flight'"