Derek Walcott, ‘Pastoral’

30 August 2010, 9:20 am

In the mute roar of autumn, in the shrill
treble of the aspens, the basso of the holm-oaks,
in the silvery wandering aria of the Schuylkill,
the poplars choiring with a quillion strokes,
find love for what is not your land, a blazing country
in eastern Pennsylvania with the DVD going
in the rented burgundy Jeep, in the inexhaustible bounty
of fall with the image of Eakins’ gentleman rowing
in his slim skiff whenever the trees divide
to reveal a river’s serene surprise, flowing
through the snow-flecked birches where Indian hunters glide.
The country has caught fire from the single spark
of a prophesying preacher, its embers glowing,
its clouds are smoke in the onrushing dark
a holocaust crackles in this golden oven
in which tribes were consumed, a debt still owing,
while a white country spire insists on heaven.

(from White Egrets, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010)

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