In The Virgins
You can't put in the ground swell of the organ
from the Christiansted, St.Croix, Anglican Church
behind the paratrooper's voice: 'Turned cop
after Vietnam. I made thirty jumps.'
Bells punish the dead street and pigeons lurch
from the stone belfry, opening their chutes,
circling until the rings of ringing stop.
'Salud!' The paratrooper's glass is raised.
The congregation rises to its feet
like a patrol, with scuffling shoes and boots,
repeating orders as the organ thumps:
'Praise Ye the Lord. The Lord's name be praised.'
You cannot hear, beyond the quiet harbor,
the breakers cannonading on the bruised
horizon, or the charter engines gunning for
Buck Island. The only war here is a war
of silence between blue sky and sea,
and just one voice, the marching choir's, is raised
to draft new conscripts with the ancient cry
of 'Onward, Christian Soldiers,' into pews
half-empty still, or like a glass, half-full.
Pinning itself to a cornice, a gull
hangs like a medal from the serge-blue sky.
Are these boats all? Is the blue water all?
The rocks surpliced with lace where they are moored,
dinghy, catamaran, and racing yawl,
nodding to the ground swell of 'Praise the Lord'?
Wesley and Watts, their evangelical light
lanced down the mine shafts to our chapel pew,
its beam gritted with motes of anthracite
that drifted on us in our chapel benches:
from God's slow-grinding mills in Lancashire,
ash on the dead mired in Flanders' trenches,
as a gray drizzle now defiles the view
of this blue harbor, framed in windows where
two yellow palm fronds, jerked by the wind's rain,
agree like horses' necks, and nodding bear,
slow as a hearse, a haze of tasseled rain,
and, as the weather changes in a child,
the paradisal day outside grows dark,
the yachts flutter like moths in a gray jar,
the martial voices fade in thunder, while
across the harbor, like a timid lure,
a rainbow casts its seven-colored arc.
Tonight, now Sunday has been put to rest.
Altar lights ride the black glass where the yachts
stiffly repeat themselves and phosphoresce
with every ripple - the wide parking-lots
of tidal affluence - and every mast
sways the night's dial as its needle veers
to find the station which is truly peace.
Like neon lasers shot across the bars
discos blast out the music of the spheres,
and, one by one, science infects the stars.
Derek Walcott's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (In The Virgins by Derek Walcott )
Still I Rise
The Road Not Taken
If You Forget Me
Edgar Allan Poe
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
A Dream Within A Dream
Edgar Allan Poe
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(15 April 1931)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- No Man Is An Island, John Donne
- A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
- (Marriage) Equality..... [see the tit.., Bri Edwards