The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

Sea Grapes
By Derek Walcott

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.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World on Selected Poems of Derek Walcott. "The poem sails in an engaging way between the realistic world of 'wriggling on his sandals' and the literary perception that associates Homer's hexameter verses with the crashing of waves," writes Robert Pinsky. "Phrases such as 'sour grapes' and 'adulterer' bring the heroic references to Earth without rejecting them. The wry, gorgeous linking of past and present remains luminous -- amused maybe, but not merely debunking. The link between two eras, two oceans, two cultures is there in the sly rhyme of 'Caribbean' with 'Aegean' -- part of a glittering thread of like sounds that winds through Walcott's stanzas to terminate with the brusque, arresting plainness of the final phrase."

My in-laws came down from Hanover to see younger son play soccer, though younger son is still not feeling a hundred percent and in fact came back and collapsed and fell asleep on the couch for the night at 7 p.m. His team has had a very rough season -- most of the good players from last season went on to competitive county teams, while my son, who is personally very noncompetitive, has missed half of every practice because it's Tuesday right when Hebrew school ends, leaving him no time to have dinner. He was really in no shape to be running up and down the field this weekend and was in a pretty cranky mood. It drizzled all through the game and I think he probably got chilled, which didn't help matters. We came home and had California Tortilla while watching the Kentucky Derby, but he didn't finish his burrito and was too cranky to play chess with his grandpa.

The first tent caterpillar of the season is always a sure sign of spring here, though it's rotten for the trees.

This one crawls away from a depleted fruit rind beside the soccer field.

The school at which the soccer team is playing this spring is near the DC border and looks much more like city than where we live.

The good news is that since there are fewer soccer fields there, there aren't four other games going on and distracting the players.

A flowering dogwood at the edge of the field.

And fancy tulips in a flower bed.

Otherwise it was a quiet day except online...for the first time really since I've been on either, I got spam comments at both LiveJournal (from some white supremacist nutcase) and GreatestJournal (from someone trying to get me to visit some sales web site). I had turned public commenting off at MySpace because I got a lot of "Want to Make $95,000 Filling Out Surveys?" comments and messages, but I've never had anything like that at GreatestJournal and the white supremacist nutcase hit all my journals here, even though they are not linked except by my friends list, from several different user IDs so I had a bunch of comments to delete and report in each place. Ugh. Sunday younger son is going to a Hebrew school outing at an amusement park if he feels well enough and my circle is celebrating Beltane. So no big expeditions this weekend, but at least the laundry will get done!

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