Bounty

Bounty

by Derek Walcott
     
 

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The Bounty was the first book of poems Walcott published after winning the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. Opening with the title poem, a memorable elegy to the poet's mother, the book features a haunting series of poems that evoke Walcott's native ground, the island of St. Lucia. "For almost forty years his throbbing and relentless lines kept arriving in

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Overview

The Bounty was the first book of poems Walcott published after winning the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. Opening with the title poem, a memorable elegy to the poet's mother, the book features a haunting series of poems that evoke Walcott's native ground, the island of St. Lucia. "For almost forty years his throbbing and relentless lines kept arriving in the English language like tidal waves," Walcott's great contemporary Joseph Brodsky once observed. "He gives us more than himself or 'a world'; he gives us a sense of infinity embodied in the language."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A prime aged Porterhouse steak, four times as thick as this slim volume and served with butter and pt, would not match the rich density of this new collection, the Nobel laureate's first since his epic Omeros. Walcott's lines are marbled with imagery worth savoring on the tongue before swallowing: "burnt sheaves of tall corn/ shriven and bearded in chorus." He forges a connection between the human heart and the earth that is reminiscent of the best Irish poetry. But the potatoes are supplanted by breadfruit, and the ache of a farmer's sacrifice to a historic land is replaced by a frequent flyer's knowledge that the soil of Poland and Parang, Spain and Boston, can all bury the bodies of loved ones or grow rich and dark with memory. In "Italian Eclogues," he makes Italy an occasion for an elegy for Joseph Brodsky: "...these cropped fields are/ your stubble grating my cheeks with departure,/ grey irises, your corn-wisps of hair blowing away." It is Walcott's home turf of St. Lucia that is the setting for his wondrous title poem, in which he grieves the loss of his mother, rages in anger that his only weapon against death is his pen: "and the fire in these tinder-dry lines of this poem I hate/ as much as I love her." In that poem he strikes a foxy metaphor when he describes the line of poetry as a line of black ants, delicate words that tread the page and combine to move mountains. "I behold their industry and they are giants," he writes of the antsaccurately expressing the admiration readers will feel for his words. (June)
Library Journal
This volume is Nobel Prize winner Walcott's first since the widely lauded Omeros (Farrar, 1990), and perhaps his best since the outstanding Midsummer (LJ 1/84). Here, in the long title poem, he salutes the memory of his mother, whose "lessons" allowed him "to write of the light's bounty on familiar things." The remainder of the book is given to expertly turned meditations on love, history, memory, and reading. Walcott never succumbs to the poet's fondness for travelog or book report; the unquiet mind that unifies these poems makes them continuous parts of one of the greatest poetic achievements of our century. In an age of demotic and bare poetry, he is insistent upon eloquence and even sublimity; his "great themes of exaltation" find form in Dante's terza rima and brilliantly oblique slant rhyme. Walcott, who divides his time between Trinidad and Boston, has long given passionate expression to "the heart's salt history"for him, the uneasy reconciliation of the dazzling Caribbean with the cooler comforts of Western culture. Here, with poignant strangeness, he finds his rest beyond even poetry, in "that elate dissolution which goes beyond happiness." Essential.Graham Christian, Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, Mass.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374525378
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
03/10/2004
Edition description:
1ST NOONDA
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.22(d)

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