“Sabbaths, W.I.” by Derek Walcott, Nobel prize in Literature 1992
those volcanoes like ashen roses, or the incurable sore of poverty…
those hillsides like broken pots…
those ferns that stamped their skeletons on the skin…”
My first feeling is gratitude, an unlimited and primitive gratitude, like that one you fell in the morning, after a pensive night, and then you open the window and there is a landscape outside, a bright landscape, a landscape that you didn’t know. You are in another country, you had arrived there in the dark, and now you are looking and breathing, imprinting new perspectives in your mind, in your soul. It is a new land you are looking at, or a new earth, or a new time. There is a lazy sun or a strong wind; it doesn’t matter. What is important is the possibility to discover. I remember heavy rains during a ruminative night in a stranger Siena. At dawn the Tuscany landscape was an explosion of pastel colours. The window reconciled me with life.
Yes, these verses by Derek Walcott are full of discoveries, are windows. The discovery that I’m inside the village, the Sunday afternoon; that I had been there many times, much more than I like to recall. And the rediscovery of that sense of dusty agoraphobia that I cannot bear. Or the finding that I’m inside the descriptions about “gommiers peeling from sunburn still wrestling to escape the sea”, “the dead lizard turning blue as stone”, because it is my speech too, my genes, my sensibility. I’m inside the Derek Walcott’s thoughts.
“and those roads that begin reciting their names and vespers…
those Sundays, those Sundays
those Sundays when my mother lay on her back
those Sundays when the sisters gathered like white moths
round their street lantern
and cities passed us by on the horizon”
By the way, reading the poetries under a guide, with the help of a discussion, with another voice that reads and recites, is completely different. I’m grateful to Sharmistha Mohanty. Her guide is so deep and smart, and her voice so passionate that the music that comes from the poem drugs me. I open a window and I see myself or other parts of myself: I’m escaping from memories that I don’t like, for example, bad days in another world, bad Sundays.
So I comfort myself with the great pleasure of another culture, not in passive way, but fighting, breathing, searching for new ways, new movements, new impulses: I must read more carefully.