If only those who grieve to­gether stayed to­gether!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Rick Wayne

It must be es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult say­ing good-bye to some­one whose ex­is­tence had never quite reg­is­tered on your con­scious­ness. At any rate, that was my think­ing as I sat alone in my liv­ing room last Satur­day af­ter­noon tak­ing in the tele­vised show star­ring the corpse of the prophet Derek Wal­cott. There were at the venue sev­eral politi­cians, lo­cal as well as one or two from other parts of the re­gion, but then what lo­cal fu­neral is ever with­out politi­cians? They may se­cretly be wish­ing their House op­po­si­tion would all drop dead in their pews, but count on them to at­tend united the send-offs of folks with whom they had never ex­changed a word but who have rel­a­tives, some old enough to vote, oth­ers fast ap­proach­ing 18.

Also in at­ten­dance as mourn­ers and as per­form­ers were lo­cal po­ets and press­ne­glected friends of the de­ceased No­bel win­ner who shortly be­fore he suc­cumbed to var­i­ous ail­ments—in­clud­ing a shat­tered heart—had by ac­ci­dent dis­cov­ered yet an­other ho­tel de­vel­op­ment was slated to go up near the Pi­tons. His re­sis­tance to sim­i­lar ad­ven­tures back in the early nineties— when as now the “ar­gu­ments of whores” dom­i­nated the at­mos­phere—is a tale sad enough to bleed hearts of stone! Con­cern weigh­ing heav­ily on his leg­endary poet’s tongue, Wal­cott had ques­tioned his ques­tion­ing re­porter: “What are they do­ing now? Who is al­low­ing this to hap­pen? This gov­ern­ment? I didn’t know that but it’s very bad news to me. That’s ter­ri­ble news and the mes­sen­ger should be shot!”

He didn’t stop there: “How can they find the place to build a ho­tel at the foot of the Pi­tons yet can­not find a spot to build a mu­seum? That’s the rage I have, the anger that I have. When I see some­thing like that hap­pen­ing in comparison to what is not hap­pen­ing, and the ex­cuses given . . . My brother died work­ing for the arts in Saint Lu­cia. He never saw a mu­seum go up or a the­ater go up. I sup­pose I, too, will die and not see it hap­pen ei­ther; it is shame­ful!”

Score one for the prophet Wal­cott!

Ad­di­tion­ally: “It speaks to our dis­re­gard of our nat­u­ral heritage. Where is this ho­tel go­ing to be lo­cated? Have they be­gun yet? When are they start­ing? And ex­actly where is this place? Will you see it in the pro­jec­tion of Pe­tit Pi­ton? And no­body ob­jected to it? They have not ob­jected to it in par­lia­ment? This deal, has it been ap­proved by the gov­ern­ment? I am ashamed of my coun­try be­cause that’s whor­ing, and you can quote me on that. If you are telling me right, that there is go­ing to be a ho­tel at the base of Pe­tit Pi­ton, vis­i­ble as a ho­tel, then that is whor­ing. And I am ashamed of my coun­try. There can still be time for protest but what can you say when a coun­try ap­proves of its own dis­fig­ure­ment?”

What in­deed? For the record: Derek and Roddy’s twin­dream, that so of­ten solemnly promised home for the arts, is listed now with the count­less other un­ful­filled pledges by suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments— pledges heard only at elec­tion time.

At the Cas­tries cathe­dral it was only hardly SRO; per­haps thou­sands of other ap­pre­ci­a­tors of the de­ceased had de­cided to par­tic­i­pate in last Satur­day’s tele­vised event in the soli­tude of their liv­ing rooms, as did I. I imag­ine many clutched their bi­bles and hym­nals as they prayed and sang in harmony with the nor­mally di­vi­sive politi­cians and other con­gre­gants. I chose in­stead to read from time to time my fa­vorite lines from White Egrets, What the Twi­light Says and

Morn­ing Paramin— even as I prayed the maker of all things, as he wel­comes home the poet from his as­sign­ments, will fi­nally de­liver to Derek and his brother Roddy re­joined what the mak­ers of noth­ing could only prom­ise.

RIP, my friend and in­spi­ra­tion; al­ready you are missed more than I am equipped to say—by even those who know not that they know nought!

Sir Derek Wal­cott’s cas­ket on its fi­nal jour­ney from the House of Par­lia­ment to tas­tries Cathe­dral.

The oc­ca­sion was an emo­tional one for fam­ily, friends and well-wish­ers who came out to pay their last re­spects.

A har­mo­nious send off from Stephen­son King (cen­tre) and op­po­si­tion leader Philip J. Pierre (right). Left Mrs. King and for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony be­hind dark glasses.

A group of school chil­dren say their fi­nal good­byes to Sir Derek Wal­cott.

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