14 April 2011

"Love After Love"

From a West Indian poet during National Poetry month:

Derek Walcott was born in St. Lucia and now lives in Trinidad where my daughter and her family lives. My favorite poem of his is one I've treasured for a long time. It gave me hope that I could be found when I felt lost and then it gave me back my heart when I was in need of that gift. I've loved it ever since and it means more to me each tine I read it. It's wise.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door,
in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread.
Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott
From Collected Poems 1948-1984

Has a poem ever helped you through a tough time?


  1. Oh, Mary. Isn't it beautiful? The poem, the thought of it, the photograph. The hope and possibility that come after loss. The capacity of the human to recover and come alive again just blows me away.

    I got to hear Walcott read at my university one year, and my poetry mentor Diane Wakoski introduced him. She made us laugh because his name and poetry volumes usually come right after hers on library and bookstore shelves.

    Happy Poetry Month! We're halfway through.

  2. Ruth, Exactly! I wasn't really sure I could come alive again after heartbreaking loss but his poem gave me hope that maybe… Blows me away as well; how can words from one heart speak so directly to another? Poetry does that for me, including yours. Do you have a book?

  3. A long time ago a very dear friend of mine dedicated a book of his poetry to me with the words from Shakespeare's Sonnet 30 which begins:

    "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
    I summon up remembrance of things past,"

    and ends:
    " But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
    All losses are restored and sorrows end."

    This is one of the most complimentary things to ever happen to me and throughout the many years since I have often had cause to read and reread that sonnet.

    I so enjoy reading your blog -- my son lives in the Veneto and my husband and I always look forward to spending time anywhere in Italy!

  4. Wow! Yes, the poem speaks directly to the heart. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. TB, Lovely sonnet to revisit. I'm glad you enjoy the blog- I'm loving this blogging world. And Italy is great fun. It's opening a whole new world for me and my Honey.

  6. Rosaria, Your welcome. Our hearts need a good talking to every once in awhile.

  7. Thank you for this one! Perfetto!

  8. I posted this poem on my blog in December of 2009. I am going to repost it because it speaks to me again of the importance of self care. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. The poems you have been posting feel like they are directed directly to me, so this must be the beauty of a poem that everyone feels the same. They speak to all and everyone, and touch each person intimately.

  10. Lauren, Vero.
    Sally, Prego.
    Lynne, I think you're right. How perfect.

  11. That really says it - what it's like when you finally find yourself. Cool.

  12. Lou, It is cool- "Sit. Feast on your life."

  13. This lovely poem could be named Maturity. It all lies within, often to our surprise when we finally think to look there.

  14. Patti, I like your perspective.

  15. Caring for myself comes so darn hard. This line in particular resonates: "You will love again the stranger who was your self." This is beautiful. I needed this. Thank you!

  16. I have to admit to not having poetry in my daily life, but I love reading it when I visit blogs such as yours. I do like the idea of finally loving yourself. Can we ever love anyone else without loving ourselves first?

  17. Lisa, Loving ourselves is hard but what's the alternative?
    Nancy, I think you're right. We can only love others when we let us love ourselves.


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