That sail which leans on light,
tired of islands,
a schooner beating up the Caribbean
for home, could be Odysseus,
home-bound on the Aegean;
that father and husband’s
longing, under gnarled sour grapes, is
like the adulterer hearing Nausicaa’s name
in every gull’s outcry.
This brings nobody peace. The ancient war
between obsession and responsibility
will never finish and has been the same
for the sea-wanderer or the one on shore
now wriggling on his sandals to walk home,
since Troy sighed its last flame,
and the blind giant’s boulder heaved the trough
from whose groundswell the great hexameters come
to the conclusions of exhausted surf.
The classics can console. But not enough.
Derek Walcott, “Sea Grapes” from Poems 1965-1980.
Copyright © 1992 by Derek Walcott. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, http://www.fsgbooks.com
. All rights reserved.
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Source: Collected Poems 1948-1984(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986)
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