The world recognises a nation of the imagination: Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott, who has described himself as 'a colonial upstart at the end of an empire', a man with 'no nation now but the imagination', had the world at his feet yesterday after winning this year's Nobel Prize for literature. Walcott, 62, was born in St Lucia and is the first writer from the Caribbean to win the prize. He spends his time in Trinidad, Britain and the US. 'Port of Spain', from The Fortunate Traveller (1982), sums up his ambiguous relations with his islands.

Port of Spain

Midsummer stretches before me with a cat's yawn.

Trees with dust on their lips, cars melting down

in a furnace. Heat staggers the drifting mongrels.

The capitol has been repainted rose, the rails

round the parks the colour of rusting blood;

Junta and coup d'etat, the newest Latino mood,

broods on the balcony. Monotonous lurid bushes

brush the damp air with the ideograms of buzzards

over the Chinese groceries. The oven alleys stifle

where mournful tailors peer over old machines

stitching June and July together seamlessly,

and one waits for lightning as the armed sentry

hopes in boredom for the crack of a rifle -

but I feed on its dust, its ordinariness,

on the inertia that fills its exiles with horror,

on the dust over the hills with their orange lights,

even on the pilot light in the reeking harbour

that turns like a police car's. The terror

is local, at least. Like the magnolia's whorish whiff.

And the dog barks of the revolution crying wolf.

The moon shines like a lost button;

the black water stinks under the sodium lights on

the wharf. The night is turned on as firmly

as a switch, dishes clatter behind bright windows,

I walk along the walls with occasional shadows

that say nothing. Sometimes, in narrow doors

there are old men playing the same quiet games -

cards, draughts, dominoes. I give them names.

The night is companionable, the day is as fierce as

our human future anywhere. I can understand

Borges's blind love of Buenos Aires,

how a man feels the veins of a city swell in his hand.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, say DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin