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Pentecost -- Derek Walcott

Guest poem sent in by Sashidhar Dandamudi
(Poem #1411) Pentecost
 Better a jungle in the head
 than rootless concrete.
 Better to stand bewildered
 by the fireflies' crooked street;

 winter lamps do not show
 where the sidewalk is lost,
 nor can these tongues of snow
 speak for the Holy Ghost;

 the self-increasing silence
 of words dropped from a roof
 points along iron railings,
 direction, in not proof.

 But best is this night surf
 with slow scriptures of sand,
 that sends, not quite a seraph,
 but a late cormorant,

 whose fading cry propels
 through phosphorescent shoal
 what, in my childhood gospels,
 used to be called the Soul.
-- Derek Walcott
While Pentecost doesn't map to the current "Ho Ho Ho" season in the United
States, on reading this poem from "Arkansas Testament" a few nights ago,
it occured to me that minus the title, this poem (a call for the tropics
in a tropical "soul"), voices an yearning (and for me personally
more apt) which shines, all the more wonderfuly when contrasted to all
that "White Christmas" noise on the radio.

Of course we have to hand it to Walcott for his perfect "finishes"!

Happy Holidays!
- Sashi

[Martin adds]

The (indeed perfect) finish reminded me of Poem #1197, with its refrain of
"some call it ..., others call it God". The tone is different, though -
today's poem is more nostalgic, and, as Sashi says, more yearning for a
religion that is increasingly missing in the narrator's life. "Childhood" is
a double-edged word, and there is definitely a suggestion that the "childhood
gospels" were in some sense naive, but overall, I think, the poem's burden is
that something of value has been, and is being lost.

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Anonymous said...

can anyone analyze this poem for me?

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