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Feb 09

1992: Derek Walcott

På den lilla ön St. Lucia i Västindien föddes den stora poeten Derek Walcott.

Han skriver poesi som är som havet självt. Majestätiskt, outgrundligt och grått men också bländande, glittrande, växlande och färgrikt, djupt.

The Sea Is History

Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs? / Where is your tribal memory? Sirs, / in that grey vault. The sea. The sea / has locked them up. The sea is History. // First, there was the heaving oil, / heavy as chaos; / then, like a light at the end of a tunnel, / the lantern of a caravel, // and that was Genesis. / Then there were the packed cries, / the shit, the moaning: // Exodus. / Bone soldered by coral to bone, / mosaics // mantled by the benediction of the shark’s shadow, / that was the Ark of the Covenant. / Then came from the plucked wires / of sunlight on the sea floor // the plangent harps of the Babylonian bondage, / as the white cowries clustered like manacles / on the drowned women, // and those were the ivory bracelets / of the Song of Solomon, / but the ocean kept turning blank pages // looking for History. / Then came the men with eyes heavy as anchors / who sank without tombs, // brigands who barbecued cattle, / leaving their charred ribs  like palm leaves on the shore, / then the foaming, rabid maw // of the tidal wave swallowing Port Royal, / and that was Jonah, / but where is your Renaissance? // Sir, it is locked in them sea-sands / out there past the reef’s moiling shelf, / where the men-o’-war floated down; // strop on these goggles, I’ll guide you there myself.  / It’s all subtle and submarine, / through colonnades of coral, // past the gothic windows of sea-fans / to where the crusty grouper, onyx-eyed, / blinks, weighted by its jewels, like a bald queen; // and these groined caves with barnacles / pitted like stone / are our cathedrals, // and the furnace before the hurricanes: & Gomorrah. Bones ground by windmills / into marl and cornmeal, // and that was Lamentations—  / that was just Lamentations, / it was not History; // then came, like scum on the river’s drying lip, / the brown reeds of villages / mantling and congealing into towns, //  and at evening, the midges’ choirs, / and above them, the spires / lancing the side of God // as His son set, and that was the New Testament. // Then came the white sisters clapping / to the waves’ progress, / and that was Emancipation— // jubilation, O jubilation— / vanishing swiftly / as the sea’s lace dries in the sun, // but that was not History, / that was only faith, / and then each rock broke into its own nation; // then came the synod of flies, / then came the secretarial heron, / then came the bullfrog bellowing for a vote, // fireflies with bright ideas / and bats like jetting ambassadors / and the mantis, like khaki police, // and the furred caterpillars of judges / examining each case closely, / and then in the dark ears of ferns // and in the salt chuckle of rocks / with their sea pools, there was the sound / like a rumour without any echo // of History, really beginning.

Denna marina världs- och kyrkohistoria kunde lämpligen kompletteras med två frälsningshistoriska strofer ur Hj. Gullbergs Bebådelse i havet: ”O svärdfisk, lova mig att smida svärdet / till plog att plöja vattenfåror med! / Spjutrocka, skruva spjutet av och bär det / till sjön där alla vapen läggas ned! // Jag bådar er en glädje utan like / bland bruna alger och bland röd korall. / Ty jord och hav ska ingå i det rike / vars kung i natten föddes i ett stall.”

En gång uppträdde i Hitis kyrka en ung man med en egenhändigt författad sång, vars persistenta refräng (på engelska) försäkrade åhörarna att mänskor som bor vid havet lär sig att förtrösta på Gud.

Jag tror, därför skriver jag. Att hon som hatar också en dag lägger av sig spjut, svärd.