Things do not explode they fail, they fade, as sunlight fades from the flesh as the foam drains quick in the sand, even love's lightning flash has no thunderous end, it dies with the sound of flowers fading like the flesh from sweating pumice stone, everything shapes this till we are left with the silence that surrounds Beethoven's head.

Derek Walcott, Endings

Creole Canticles


Let us praise His Name with an opening lakonmèt, and in the graceful procession of weedova; let laughing, madras-crowned girls rejoice before Him in the scottish and flirtatious moolala, its violon hinting of heartache. And while we forget time turning in quick-heeled polkas, pause during the tentative norwegian — for when the couples end the gwan won, you alone must dance for Him your koutoumba.


I was glad when they call me to go up in the Séwénal. The violon scraping my heart, banjo and kwatro thrumming my grief like their plectrum, and the guitar pulling my heel. —I only seeing her tuning the mandolin on her bosom — Then the shakshak shake me loose, insisting, insisting, “wait for the bow, the bow and the courtesy, wait for the sax, the drum and the kwadril to start.” Selah.


And so, she has come: to the gold-flecked Wob Dwiyèt, its long train in folds over her left wrist, the clean petticoat adorned with lace, the satin foulard, the head-piece of rainbow madras— from the nondescript costume of the far city, from the profligate famine of Cardun’s estates— to the embracing plenitude of Kwadril shakshak and violon, to that Bright Brooch on the glistening triangular foulard.


The cascading words of my hand pluck His praise from eight-string bandolin and local banjo, place His favour on madras and foulard, the satin and the lace, plant His steps in mazouk, lakonmèt and gwan won; point His casual grace in yellow pumpkin star, pendular mango, plait Him a crown of anthurium and fern — He is the Crown, the Star of grace, the Dancer of creation, the Robing of righteousness, Tuning of the spheres, Hand of the Incarnating Word.

St. Lucian poet John Robert Lee


Lakonmèt, weedova, scottish etc are traditional folk dances of St. Lucia.

Séwénal – a musical tradition of St. Lucia in which musicians and others with any object that can make a musical sound walk in procession through the town – making music and diverse sounds, of course.

Violon (violin), banjo, shakshak, kwatro are traditional folk music instruments.

Kwadril (quadrille) – folk dance of St. Lucia, out of the French heritage.

Wob Dwiyèt – national dress of St. Lucian women. The verse describes parts of the dress.

Foulard – a triangular scarf-type part of the wob dwiyèt that is placed over the shoulders. It is usually fastened at the front by a distinctive brooch.

Cardun – a name created by the poet to describe a certain bacchanalian sprit of carnival licentiousness. (from the expression “fete can’t done.”)

Bandolin – Creole version of mandolin, traditional folk music instrument.

"The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and each will smile at each other’s welcome, and say sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self, Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love-letters from the bookshelf the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life."

Derek Walcott, Love After Love

My mother, small goddess of ground doves, grows wishes in the earthlogged house. She dyes her hair the colour of plums, wears stones round her neck that remind her of the sea. She glues half- broken things with brittle fingers, strings them up like stray blessings. My mother writes poems about freedom with dead flowers and tea leaves, then burns each unused word at morning.

Half Broken Things