Derek Walcott

Rookie (23 January 1930 / Castries / St Lucia)

A City's Death By Fire


After that hot gospeller has levelled all but the churched sky,
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city's death by fire;
Under a candle's eye, that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell, in more than wax, of faiths that were snapped like wire.
All day I walked abroad among the rubbled tales,
Shocked at each wall that stood on the street like a liar;
Loud was the bird-rocked sky, and all the clouds were bales
Torn open by looting, and white, in spite of the fire.
By the smoking sea, where Christ walked, I asked, why
Should a man wax tears, when his wooden world fails?
In town, leaves were paper, but the hills were a flock of faiths;
To a boy who walked all day, each leaf was a green breath
Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails,
Blessing the death and the baptism by fire.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Saturday, November 19, 2011
# 417 poem on top 500 Poems


Do you like this poem?
26 person liked.
3 person did not like.

Form:


Read poems about / on: fire, city, sky, death, green, sea, world

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (A City's Death By Fire by Derek Walcott )

  • Gold Star - 37,196 Points Aftab Alam Khursheed (2/25/2015 1:35:00 AM)

    Nice poem- presentation via dream (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,849 Points Kevin Patrick (2/25/2014 10:26:00 PM)

    A surrealist dream depicted with Judeo Christian imagery, provides a breathtaking vista, of soulful yearning. A lovely read (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,479 Points Howard 'the motivational poet' Simon (2/25/2014 1:07:00 PM)

    A poem of deep sadness and loss that is impregnated with incredible imagery. Well done Walcott. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 909 Points George Samuel (2/25/2014 12:04:00 PM)

    Great work great ideas to view images and uncover their beautiful pictures great thinking. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 369 Points Stephen W (2/25/2014 10:29:00 AM)

    Does anyone know what this poem is about? I haven't a clue. (Report) Reply

    Freshman - 1,369 Points L. E. O. Gibraltar (1/14/2015 2:01:00 PM)

    I'm not sure what it means. But I do think the piece is about a Gospeller (an evangelist) shaking things up in a place where unorthodoxy has become the truth.

  • Freshman - 1,077 Points Paul Reed (2/25/2014 5:33:00 AM)

    I wrote the tale by tallow.. great rhythm and alliteration. It contrasts the ashes of the city where man overly concentrates his efforts and mentality, and sometimes forgets the gift of the green open spaces which were given for free. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 69 Points Sathyanarayana M V S (4/19/2009 12:10:00 PM)

    Now I know why Walcott is called as the greatest living English poet. His poetry has a diffirent flavour, with rich imagery, surrealism and sweet words. (Report) Reply

Read all 7 comments »

Famous Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  3. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  4. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  8. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. A Dream Within A Dream
    Edgar Allan Poe
Trending Poets
Trending Poems
  1. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  2. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  3. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  4. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  5. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
  6. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  7. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  8. A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
  9. If, Rudyard Kipling
  10. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
[Hata Bildir]