National Poetry Month Daily Poem: ‘Sea Canes’ by Derek Walcott


To celebrate National Poetry Month, Flavorwire will be posting a poem a day. For today’s installment, we’re proud to feature a poem from one of the most important collections of the year, The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013.

“Sea Canes” by Derek Walcott

Half my friends are dead.
I will make you new ones, said earth
No, give me them back, as they were, instead,
with faults and all, I cried.

Tonight I can snatch their talk
from the faint surf’s drone
through the canes, but I cannot walk

on the moonlit leaves of ocean
down that white road alone,
or float with the dreaming motion

of owls leaving earth’s load.
O earth, the number of friends you keep
exceeds those left to be loved.

The sea-canes by the cliff flash green and silver;
they were the seraph lances of my faith,
but out of what is lost grows something stronger

that has the rational radiance of stone,
enduring moonlight, further than despair,
strong as the wind, that through dividing canes

brings those we love before us, as they were,
with faults and all, not nobler, just there.

Excerpted from The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 by Derek Walcott, selected by Glyn Maxwell, published in January 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2014 by Derek Walcott. All rights reserved.