The Fist

By Derek Walcott b. 1930 Derek Walcott
The fist clenched round my heart
loosens a little, and I gasp
brightness; but it tightens
again. When have I ever not loved
the pain of love? But this has moved

past love to mania. This has the strong
clench of the madman, this is
gripping the ledge of unreason, before
plunging howling into the abyss.

Hold hard then, heart. This way at least you live.

Derek Walcott, "The Fist" from Collected Poems: 1948-1984. Copyright © 1986 by Derek Walcott. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved.

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Source: Collected Poems 1948-1984 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986)

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Poet Derek Walcott b. 1930

POET’S REGION Caribbean

Subjects Love, Desire

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Derek  Walcott

Biography

Born on the island of Saint Lucia, a former British colony in the West Indies, poet and playwright Derek Walcott was trained as a painter but turned to writing as a young man. He published his first poem in the local newspaper at the age of 14. Five years later, he borrowed $200 to print his first collection, 25 Poems, which he distributed on street corners. Walcott’s major breakthrough came with the collection In a Green Night: . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Desire

POET’S REGION Caribbean

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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