Tribute to Hon. Sir Derek A. Walcott from the Saint Lucia Labour Party
Our country awoke on the morning of March 17 to the sad news that a Saint Lucian genius, an icon of the world, had passed. It is impossible for anyone to be able to express in words the life of this Saint Lucian Nobel Laureate only his own mastery of the English language could aptly describe his life work and achievements.
Sir Derek was born on Chausee Road in Castries, Saint Lucia 87 years ago. I was pleased to be part of the government that started to memorialize the home where he was born and where he lived during his formative years on that famous street in Castries where Sir Arthur Lewis, the other Saint Lucian-born Nobel laureate, also lived.
To say Sir Derek was a genius of all times is an understatement. He ranks in the literary world of William Shakespeare, Longfellow, V.S. Naipaul and others of that ilk. His works have been proclaimed globally and he was a mentor to many local writers like Robert Lee and McDonald Dixon.
His first anthology In a Green Night: Poems 1948-60 was described by The Listener as “a striking first collection. His writing belongs to the pleasure band of the spectrum; it is full of summary, melancholy, fresh and stinging colours, luscious melody and intense awareness of place . . . his volume hums with echoes of Villan and Dante, Catullus and the metaphysicals.”
Sir Derek continued to blaze the trail with his poetry and writings, always remembering the country of his birth, Saint Lucia. From Return to D’Ennery Rain to A City’s Death By Fire, Saint Lucia was his oasis, his playground from where he would inform the world of his native island, introducing the local patois in his poetry, proud of his heritage and his country. This “greatest living writer” is gone but thankfully his writing will remain for the world to enjoy and share with generations still unborn.
On behalf of the Executive, members and Parliamentarians of the Saint Lucia Labour Party I wish to express my deepest sympathy to the family of the late Hon Sir Derek A. Walcott. May his soul rest in peace.
Saint Lucia’s Nobel laureate Sir Derek Walcott.