Poem: “The Fist” by Sir Derek A. Walcott

0 Posted by - January 29, 2021 - Black Culture, Black History, LATEST POSTS, Poems

Sir Derek Alton Walcott, KCSL, OBE, OCC was a Saint Lucian poet and playwright. He received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex from 2010 to 2013.

Walcott was born and raised in Castries, Saint Lucia, in the West Indies, the son of Alix (Maarlin) and Warwick Walcott. He had a twin brother, the playwright Roderick Walcott, and a sister, Pamela Walcott. His family is of English, Dutch and African descent, reflecting the complex colonial history of the island that he explores in his poetry. His mother, a teacher, loved the arts and often recited poetry around the house. His father, who painted and wrote poetry, died at the age of 31 from mastoiditis while his wife was pregnant with the twins Derek and Roderick.

After graduation, Walcott moved to Trinidad in 1953, where he became a critic, teacher and journalist. He founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 1959 and remained active with its Board of Directors.

Walcott’s first poem, “1944,” consisting of 44 lines of free verse, was published when he was just 14 years old. For a lifetime of poetic expression, he received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1992. The committee called his work “a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment.”

The Fist

By Derek Walcott
The fist clenched round my heart
loosens a little, and I gasp
brightness; but it tightens
again. When have I ever not loved
the pain of love? But this has moved
past love to mania. This has the strong
clench of the madman, this is
gripping the ledge of unreason, before
plunging howling into the abyss.
Hold hard then, heart. This way at least you live.


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