The Star-Apple Kingdom

Derek Walcott,

The Star-Apple Kingdom
 
 

Most of the poems in this new collection follow the arc of the Caribbean archipelago from Trinidad to Jamaica. The reader is taken on an odyssey, beginning with "The Schooner Flight," in which a poor mulatto sailor abandons his life in Trinidad, sailing northward to meet his fate, and ending with "The Star-Apple Kingdom," a long poem whose axis is the crucial attempt to establish a new social order in Jamaica without sacrificing democracy. Other poems speak through various personae: "Koenig of the River" marks the end of a saga of nineteenth-century exploration and conquest through the Conradian image of a missionary-soldier whose comrades have been lost at sea; "The Saddhu of Couva" describes the lament of an Indian priest for a fading spirituality; "Egypt, Tobago" places Mark Antony on a beach in the glare of afternoon. Two poems are dedicated to fellow poets--Josephy Brodsky and Robert Lowell.

In The Star-Apple Kingdom, Walcott's precise and inventive imagery is enriched by frequent exploitation of the tonal aspects of dialect. He has absorbed into poetry the normal resources of fiction--to the point where fact crystallizes into metaphor. As John Thompson recently commented in The New York Review of Books: "Walcott writes now as a man who knows exactly what he is doing. His style is that of the best language of our period."



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