Earth

by Derek Walcott


Original Language English

Let the day grow on you upward
through your feet,
the vegetal knuckles,

to your knees of stone,
until by evening you are a black tree;
feel, with evening,

the swifts thicken your hair,
the new moon rising out of your forehead,
and the moonlit veins of silver

running from your armpits
like rivulets under white leaves.
Sleep, as ants

cross over your eyelids.
You have never possessed anything
as deeply as this.

This is all you have owned
from the first outcry
through forever;

you can never be dispossessed.

-- from Sea Grapes, by Derek Wolcott

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Let the day grow on you upward

I love this opening line. It plays with that phrase that something can grow on us, that we slowly become acclimated it, harmonizing with it over time, befriending it, until it becomes a part of us.

through your feet,
the vegetal knuckles,

to your knees of stone,
until by evening you are a black tree...


And in this poem, the day and the earth are the same. We not only accept it, but we accept it into our body. We become, in a sense, possessed by the life of the earth as we participate in the day until, by evening we have become a "black tree," that is, strong, rooted in the earth, filled with a patient, steady life that is one with the world around us.

the new moon rising out of your forehead

That image of the new moon, perhaps a thin crescent, rising from our forehead, evokes in my mind the iconography of India, Shiva with the crescent moon of enlightenment upon his brow.

You have never possessed anything
as deeply as this.


Are we possessed by the earth and life and the day, or do we possess it? Self and earth, they participate in each other. They yield into each other.

Everything else, wealth, role, home, these things shift and evolve, coming into our lives, sometimes leaving to return in another form. But the land and the day and the deep self, the root reality of all things, they are truly in us, in our bones and flesh. They are not merely things we seek and hold; they are what we are. And so the poet concludes with--

This is all you have owned
from the first outcry
through forever;

you can never be dispossessed.


Something I find very grounding and deeply healing about Walcott's poem.

Have a beautiful day upon this beautiful earth!



Recommended Books: Derek Walcott

Sea Grapes Collected Poems 1948 - 1984 The Poetry of Derek Wolcott 1948 - 2013 Omeros White Egrets: Poems
More Books >>





Earth