Friday, October 31, 2008

Contemplating Walcott...

After weeks of hearing about floods and rising water levels and displaced and confused residents and after days of traveling on partially washed-out roads in crowded, noisy buses, I am left feeling a bit frazzled. I can only imagine what those who have been directly affected by this flood are experiencing.
While I understand that our country is strapped for funds and immediate relief efforts may be inhibited by this fact, I am so angry that those monies were not used properly and now, in time of disaster, we must suffer the consequences.
I am reminded of this poem by Derek Walcott entitled "Parades, Parades". This sums up my feelings exactly.
here's the wide desert, but no one marches
except in the pads of old caravans,
there is the ocean, but the keels incise
the precise, old parallels,
there's the blue sea above the mountains
but they scratch the same lines
in the jet trails--
so the politicians plod
without imagination, circling
the same sombre garden
with its fountain dry in the forecourt,
the grigri palms desiccating
dung bods like goats,
the same lines rule the White Papers,
the same steps ascend Whitehall,
and only the name of the fool changes
under the plumed white cork-hat
for the Independence parades,
revolving around, in calypso,
to the brazen joy of the tubas.

Why are the eyes of the beautiful
and unremarked children
in the uniforms of the country
bewildered and shy,
why do they widen in terror
of the pride drummed into their minds?
Were they truer, the old songs,
when the law lived far away,
when the veiled queen, her girth
as comfortable as cushions,
upheld the orb with its stern admonitions?
We wait for the changing of statues,
for the change of parades.
Here he comes now, here he comes!
Papa! Papa! With his crowd,
the sleek, waddling seals of his Cabinet,
trundling up to the dais,
as the wind puts its tail between
the cleft of the mountain, and a wave
coughs once, abruptly.
Who will name this silence
respect? Those forced, hoarse hosannas
awe? That tin-ringing tune
from the pumping, circling horns
the New World? Find a name
for that look on the faces
of the electorate. Tell me
how it all happened, and why
I said nothing.

from Sea Grapes 1971

1 comment:

The Voice said...

That poem is deep. The spoken word is a powerful thing. But tell me, gial, what would be the best thing to happen next?