Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Front Matter
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Digitization of this item is currently in progress.
Caribbean Quarterly
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099208/00114
 Material Information
Title: Caribbean Quarterly
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: University of the West Indies
Publisher: Extra Mural Dept. of the University College of the West Indies
Place of Publication: Mona, Jamaica
Genre: serial   ( sobekcm )
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 843029
sobekcm - UF00099208_00114
System ID: UF00099208:00114

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Front Matter
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
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        Page 150
        Page 151
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        Page 174
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        Page 182
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        Page 189
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        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
    Back Matter
        Back Matter
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

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This West Indies Federation commemorative issue of "Caribbean Quarterty",
which marks the opening of the West Indies Parliament by Her Royal Highness
Princess Margaret on the 22nd April, 1958, carries on the cover a reproduction
of the Flag of the Federation, the description of which is: "A blue background,
with four white wavy bars, the top pair of bars being parallel and the lower
pair also parallel; the flag to have an orange sun in the centre."

Approved by the Governor-General's Advisory Council on the 8th January,
1958, this design, the work of Jamaica's Mr. Fabian Edwards, won priority over
others for "its presentation of the elements of sea and sun appropriate to The
West Indies."

In giving her gracious assent, Her Majesty, the Queen, signed : "Approved
E.R." above the emblem.

The Arms of the Federation of the The West Indies adorn the back cover
of this issue.



Vol. 5


Reprinted from a copy in the collections of the
University of Florida Librairies

Reprinted by permission of
A Division of

Printed in Germany
Lessingdruckerei Wiesbaden


Vol. 5. No. APRIL, 1958




Song of the Pedlar 123
Triptych 124
Ancestor on the Auction Block 126
The Day the First Snow Fell 128
History Makers 129
Release 130
Magdalene 131
Hurricane Passage 132
We 134
I shall Remember 137
Poem 139
Morning 140
Poui Spell .141


The Rice Planters 142

Beneath the Casuarinas 143
Chanson Triste 144
Return 145
Poem 146
Portrait of Mr. X 147

Moonlight in the Caura Valley 150

Fugue 151
Acceptance 152

The Singing Negress 153

Ave Maria 154
Expect No Turbulence 155

"Birth Is 156

Earrings In Your Ear 157

The Engine 159

The Unreturning 160
And The Pouis Sing 161
The Sea And The Hills 163
Iines Written On A Train 165

Beggarman 166

Worthing: Midnight 168


There Were Those 170

A Carol In Minor 171
Perhaps Not Now 172

arnival Rhapsody 173

Swans 174

Men of Ideas 175

I am Jamaica 177
Ascension 178

Road-Mending 179

To My Mother 180
Lady By The Sea 181
Homestead 183

Sun Is A Shapely Fire 185
For Christopher Columbus 187

A Beauty Too of Twisted Trees 191
Pocomania 192
Jamaican Fisherman 194
Year's Ending 195
Clear as the Clear Sun's Light 196
Trees His Testament .198


The Vision Comes And Goes 200
From Testament 202
Jamaica 203
And Music 204

In Our Land 205
Ask For A Light 206
Roots 207
Tribute 208

Poem 209

To the Unborn Leader 210
Revelation 211

The Need 212
The Hour 213

As John To Patmos 214
The Yellow Cemetery 215
A City's Death by Fire 218
Against My Holy Rage 219
The Lesson for this Sunday 221
Two Hieroglyphs on the Passing of Empires 222

Cane Garden 223

A Plume of Dust 224
On Remembering Immortelles 225



llth Editors of Caribbean Quarterly are grateful for the assistance they
hlave icctivcd from all quarters of the Caribbean in the preparation of this
anthology. In particular, they acknowledge their indebtedness to Mr. Frank
Collymore of Barbados, Mr. B. H. Easter of St. Lucia, Mr. Robert Verity
and Mrs. Edna Manley of Jamaica and Mr. A. J. Seymour of British Guiana
for their help in forwarding and selecting poems. They owe thanks too to the
Editors of Bim, Focus and Kykoveral and to the individual poets for
permission to reprint work already published.

MSS. and Communications to the Editors should be addressed to either Editor of
the Caribbean Quarterly at their respective addresses, and not to an individual.
Unsolicited MSS. which are not accepted for publication will be returned if accom-
pained by a stamped addressed envelope.

9 *



PHILIP M. SHERLOCK, U.C.W.I. Mona, Jamaica, B.W.I.
ANDREW T. CARR, Editorial Office, Trinidad, B.W.I.

Single copies can be obtained in the British We;t Indies from booksellers or Iro
Resident Tutors of the Extra Mural Department, in the various territories wlose

addresses are

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Resident Tutor, Extra Mural I department, University
College of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, B.W.I
Vernon Leslie, Baron Bliss Institute, Belize, Britisn
Douglas Hall, Extra Mural Department, St. John's.
Antigua, B.W.I
B. 11. Easter, Bridge Strutt, Castries, St. Lut i; B.W.I.
A. Douglas-Smith, Lee Side. St. Lawrence Gap, Christ
Church, Barbados, .\\'.I.
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of-Spain, Trinidad, B.W.I.

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Vol. III, No. 1
Language and Folklore
My Life
Creole-A Folk Language
Carriacou Dances
A Rada Community in Trinidad

Frederick G.Cassidy
Frank Mayhew
Elodie Jourdain

Andrew T. Carr

Vol. III, No. 2
Recent Developments in Race Relations in the United States...George E. Simpson and
J. Milton Yinger
The Mud Volcanoes K. W. Barr
Sir Charles Metcalfe D. G. Hall
The Rise of the Village Settlements of British Guiana Rawle Farley
A Note on Economic Policy in Tortola Simon Rottenberg

Vol. III, No. 3
Citizenship in an Emergent Nation
The Archives of Jamaica
Research and the Lay Scholar
The Apprenticeship Period in Jamaica 1834-1838
Alexandre Petion
West Indian Reptiles
On Being a West Indian

Vol. III, No. 4
Trinidad Town House
French and Creole Patois in Haiti
The Choice and Use of Words
Form and Style in a Bahamian Folktale
Coco and Mona
Antonio Maceo

Vol. IV, No. 1
Africa in West Indian Poetry
The New Movement in Haiti
Island Carib Folk Tales
The Language Problem in the British Caribbean
Labor Relations in an Undeveloped Economy
Jamaica Prepares for Invasion, 1779
The First Chapter in Caribbean History
Frederick Douglass Letters from the Haitian Legation...

Vol. IV, No. 2
The Teaching of History in the Americas
Festivals of the Calendar in St. Lucia
Launching a Schooner in Carriacou
The Shadow and the Substance
Tobago Villagers in the Mirror of Dialect
Quater-Centenary of Richard Eden's Decades of the Newe
World or West India, Etc.'

R. K. Gardiner
Clinton V. Black
M. W. Barley
D. G. Hall
Dantes Bellegarde
Garth Underwood
H. W. Springer

Colin Laird
Edith Efron
Sir Thomas Taylor
Daniel J. Crowley
M. Sandman
J. A. Borome

Edith Efron
E. P. Banks
R. B. Le Page
Simon Rottenberg
Robert Neil McLarty
Eric Murray
Benjamin Quareis

J. H. Parry
Daniel J. Crowley
Bruce Procope
Rawle Farley
H. B. Meikle

John A. Ramearan

Price 50 cents (B.W.I. or U.S.) or 2/1 U.K. per issue.

Vol. IV, Nos. 3 and 4
Carnival in Nineteenth Century Trinidad Andrew Pearse
The Traditional Masques of Carnival ... Daniel J. Crowley
The Changing Attitude of the Coloured Middle Class
Towards Carnival Barbara E. Powrie
Carnival in New Orleans Munro S. Edmonson
Mitto Sampson on Calypso Legends of the Nineteenth
Century (Arranged and edited by
Andrew Pearse)
The Midnight Robbers Daniel J. Crowley
The Dragon Band or Devil Band Bruce Procope
Pierrot Grenade Andrew T. Carr

Price : (Double Issue) $1.00 (B.W.I. or U.S.) or 4/2 U.K.


LET the artists, the poets and the writers speak of the flaming directions that
live in us today
"Years ago," writes Edna Manley, whose work is an inspiration and a
magnificent achievement, "I remember judging a large collection of drawings,
and paintings, not one single work of which portrayed the features of the
characteristics of a Jamaican face.
Even worse, there was one little study or sketch of a Jamaican market
scene, and believe it or not, the market women under their scarlet bandanas
had yellow hair, pink faces, and even blue eyes we had become deaf
and blind to the land and people that were Jamaica."
In Barbados, Vaughan cried out in protest against this blindness, and
those who
"keep tight lips
For burnished beauty nearer home"
Swiftly, after long slow years, a change came. Hugh Springer has pointed
out that the discontents and rioting of the 1930's were followed by "a spurt
of unprecedented political activity which we are still in the midst of. The dust
has not settled yet and the outlines are blurred, but it seems plain enough that
the West Indian people have come to the end of one epoch and are at the
beginning of another.
It is worth pointing out that the whole process that is going on, of which the
spectacular political and economic changes are only the mechanical adjust-
ments, is a social one. It may be described as the absorption of the majority
into the way of life of the minority. But now there has been a change of
direction, or perhaps we might say a complication has been introduced. The
majority, with increasing self-confidence, have begun to find merit in their
own way of life, recognisably West Indian"
So where there was neglect there is a spontaneous identification; instead
of rejection a passionate devotion
"I saw my land in the morning
And O but she was fair
The hills flamed upwards scorning
Death and Failure here.
I saw my friends in the morning
They called from an equal gate
'Build now: whilst time is burning
Forward before it's late' "



Song of the Pedlar

"Needles and pins, virtues and sins
Raging and ranting, psalm-singing and chanting,
Rich man and poor man and beggar and robber,
Devils and fire, and saints and cold water,
His own mother's son and her own father's daughter.
And who is to catalogue virtues and sins,
Marking where lust leaves off, where love begins?
Crimes that are great, good deeds that are piddling,
Soul-searing hate and love fair to middling,
Old sinners turned saints and young saints a-sinning,
When half of the losing comes back with the winning,
Life is confusing, alas and alack!
Nothing is white and nothing is black.
Does day end with night? Is night day's beginning?
Debit is credit and losing is winning,
One and one's two, and one and one's seven,
And one and one's hell, and one and one's heaven

So sang the pedlar plying his trade,
Selling the things that his old hands had made.
He was old, he was daft; but I paused as I laughed
Briefly to wonder: What would he have sung
Had he been younger, had he been young?



Dawn is a fisherman, his harpoon of light
Poised for a throw--so swiftly morning comes:
The darkness squats upon the sleeping land
Like a flung cast-net, and the black shapes of boats
Lie hunched like nesting turtles
On the flat calm of the sea.

Among the trees the houses peep at the stars
Blinking farewell, and half-awakened birds
Hurtle across the vista, some in the distance
Giving their voice self-criticized auditions.

Warning comes from the cocks, their necks distended
Like city trumpeters: and suddenly
Between the straggling fences of grey cloud
The sun, a barefoot boy, strides briskly up
The curved beach of the sky, flinging his greetings
Warmly in all directions, laughingly saying
Up, up the day is here I Another day is here!

At twelve o'clock the maddened sun charges
the city; a flourish of klaxons, cycle bells,
and counter-clerks' hurrying to their
appointed meal prelude his daily tantrum.

Watch him propel his entrance from a door
sprung vertical to the reflector-sky-
a frothing bull dropped into the arena
of guttered streets and wilted wooden houses.

His purpled rage disintegrates the asphalt,
and city folk, entrenched in sheltered niches,
helplessly view the wanton holocaust
of brittle grass, and paint-peeled walls, and trees
stoutly assuaging heat for park-benched stragglers.


Blindly he flings his fury at closed doors
of shops, and errant drays wheel cautiously
along the vacant streets once thick with noise.
His frenzy spent, he squats above the square
surveying in disdain the rampage grounds .

And people stir and the bustling city throws
taunts of indifference at this jaded foe
as chatter surges and the cycle bells
resume their spate of talk at one o'clock.

Peace comes upon our rivers in the evening
stalking on padded feet.
and weaves a spell of drowsy langour
like a pipe-dream of marijuana
slowly softly over everything.

The jungle birds flap homeward through the trees
drugged to their nest; the water-lilies
and the tum-tum vines,
curl up their slimy roots; and winds
of the rivers, like some witch's brew,
mix the weed-smoke of stupor with the musk
of rotted crabs, of fetid swamp miasma.

A feeble cry of protest from a baboon
dies in his throat; a tiger yawns, and here
an alligator tumbles from a stump
to beach his length upon a bank of mud

On the high sands a buccotora nods
and draws into his nissen shell. The sun,
the artful instigator, brazenly flaunting
his fiery shamelessness
moves westward, one by one
turns off his lights, and in a final glow
retires softly to the grey boudoir
of the promiscuous hills
leaving to stars and the night
the torpid peace that comes upon our rivers.


Ancestor on the Auction Block

Ancestor on the auction block
Across the years your eyes seek mine
Compelling me to look.
I see your shackled feet
Your primitive black face
I see your humiliation
And turn away

Across the years your eyes seek mine
Compelling me to look
Is this mean creature that I see
Ashamed to look
Because of myself ashamed
Shackled by my own ignorance
I stand
A slave.

I cry to the eternal abyss
For understanding
Ancestor on the auction block
Across the years your eyes meet mine
I am transformed
My freedom is within myself.

I look you in the eyes and see
The spirit of God eternal
Of this only need I be ashamed
Of blindness to the God within me
The same God who dwelt within you
The same eternal God
Who shall dwell
In generations yet unborn.


Ancestor on the auction block
Across the years
I look
I see you sweating, toiling, suffering
Within your loins I see the seed
Of multitudes
From your labour
Grow roads, aqueducts, cultivation
A new country is born
Yours was the task to clear the ground
Mine be the task to build.


The Day the First Snow Fell

The day the first snow fell I floated to my birth
Of feathers falling by my window; touched earth
And melted touched again and left a little touch of light
And everywhile we touched till earth was white.

Wood was now black or white
White world was bright at night
And water was black wood
Carved into two white swans.

Birth was black water
Where the white wood bends
Death was black winter
Where the white wood ends.

The day the first snow fell I floated to my death
Of feathers fallen by my window; left
Love unmelted loved again to touch the little left of light
And everywhere we left while love was white.


History Makers

Women stone breakers
Hammers and rocks
Tired child makers
Haphazard frocks.
Strong thigh
Rigid head
Bent nigh
Hard white piles
Of stone
Under hot sky
In the gully bed.

No smiles
No sigh
No nloi

Women child bearers
Pregnant frocks
Wilful toil sharers
Destiny shapers
History makers
Hammers and rocks.



Let my dreams hang intact round my tree
And let my branches reach in every land,
So all the peoples of the world might see
The beauty and the tear-drops from my hands.
Let there be loftiness
And sun-lit sky
And over all blue unity of space
And there be world possession of my trunk,
Spread thus my dreams.



It was his serenity
Brought me sanity.
There was no lust in his eyes
No look of surprise
At my naked flesh
No willingness
To be caught in the mesh
Of the loveliness
That had bored my ears.

I felt secure
As I knelt at his feet
And had no fears
That at dead of night
I would hear the beat
In an outside room,
Creak of a door
And demand of my womb.

It was his serenity
That held me so
I would not go
Away from the side
Of man enticed
His passions denied
For his way of life.


Hurricane Passage

Wind was music that wafted us out in September,
Wafted us down the white-washed foam-flecked sea.
Waves were dancers and the sky danced too, spun
On deck of the schooner
On stilts that were masts.

Stars, for the sky came to dance in her evening wear,
Beaded with sequins her dark amber gown.
Her high heels were masts set on deck where she danced,
She had tidied her hair
Hung like cloud from above.

Wind blew a song in the ropes; and bass on the sails
Stole a marriage of tunes with the engine's cymbals.
Spray mounting the bow sped swiftly astern
Where it clung to the rails
And sprawled on the planks.

Night hung above channels between islands and capes,
And shrouded in black the horizon;
Danced with the sky, and whispered a lovesong,
Hugged the stars in his drapes,
And joyed between waves;

Capered, for night had drunk deeply the rum the sky drew
From sunset and passed in a cloud to his lips,
Drew the sky closer hinting mischief he planned
While his deep tone grew
Growling like thunder.

Night spat a white rage in the crest of each swell,
And thundered aloud its wild wonder
As the schooner blundered harmlessly on,
Rose and pitched with the yell
Of the wave and timber.

Chords in the wind were screams; music grew wild in the pall
The dance turned to chaos of foam and mad water.
A cape that we passed turned 'cadaver',
Laid low in a brawl
Wh night and thunder.


Nearly all were asleep, the compass pointed us on.
A form at the helm stood there in the rain,
Unreal as a ghost in the cold and spray;
Stayed there until dawn
Night had wasted its wrath.

But dawn came with a rush and lighting blazed
Far fiercer than sunflash about and above.
Music was wilder than ever,-louder.
Sky letting her tresses fly, gazed,
Glared madly at us.

Foam swirled in a ballet of waves and shouted,
And the spray hurled aloft, pirouetted.
Foam spun on before us and swirled with the wind.
We were frighted,
And lowered mainsail and jib.

The wind.
Horn-blasting, the wind spun away, sped in spirals,
Armed with the spray and rain;
Struck wildly at cloud torn to tatters and tassel,
Swung again and again;

Spun a tassel-shaped cloud to the sea,
Tore a rent in the smoke
And sped through the flue that was there.
It blundered and broke.

The sea.
The sea gnashed its teeth at the wind,
Gaped, clacked its jaws like gunfire.
Brazen-bellied, it bellowed.
Reared higher.

The sea whirled and growled in its temper.
The sea was a hunger;
Rushed to wrestle our vessel.
Mouth agape to its iron maw

1 C* II


The ship
Bounded or plunged, hounded,
We yawed, but still pounded to southward.
Sea engulfed us.
And belched us again in its rage.
The day was an age.

Some strove at a lever, pumped.
A wave scuttled sternways from forw'd,
Drenched the stock in the foredeck, that bleated,
Shot through the scuppers and showered,
Found the cargo
Of yam and potato.

The ship was a force that fled
In the face of the storm.
We were the will that bled
At scourge of the fear, hangers-on to a hope.
The storm was the terror.

We had sailed in September.
The wind was Scylla's voice by the isles in September.
The sun was no loss; it sank like an island behind us.
The storm all day hid the flush in its cheek.
We skirted Grenada where the palms waved wildly at us
It lost in the rain. The wind left us weak.
The storm had followed the sun; night found us.

The wind was a song once more in the shrouds.
Sky stood on her high heels again,
Diamond-studded her hair: tresses were clouds.
We sped on, our engine had not deceived us.
We entered the Bocas.

We were older. We had found Death comrade among us.
Found Death fresh fellow for us on each wave,
And shunned Death.
Fear is time's diary.
Fear is time's calendar to measure age,
Fear is challenge only the will accepts,
Fear is a hurricane.



In the whispering cane,
In the heat,
And the fits of rain,
And the soil clinging
To our feet
With the turned hoe-stroke,

In the white glamour
Of cotton,
And the quick colour
In waves of petals,
In the sun
Soft on the ripe lime,

On a sweep of beach
By the sea,
With sway and the reach
For rope and the fish
Twined surely
In their last boredom,

Have dreamt of cities
Tall as tales in smoke of industries;
And the rumours of gold
We heard were hard on our failing faiths.

Have had word from far,
Over wind-swept islands and a sea
Of a rich land calling,
And we felt its summons in the air.

But we are fish, roped fish,
Dragged slowly to the definite doom
On the sand there waiting
The last fevers of our hot gasping.


We are prophets, knowing
Our next turnings in bewildered arcs,
Or the meek surprises
Rare in the warm swelter of hours.

Yet we are duped often
By the passage of the too rich hope
That lures this sight, and hides
From us our true selves while it crosses.

So we have decided
Not to construct hope on continents,
Or leave lost hearts to rove
In the quick air on oceans of dream.

We have decided
To build here, on our slender soil.



I Shall Remember

And so 1 leave this island-
This island that I have loved.
This people that I have loved.

But I shall remember always
The beauty of my people
And the beauty of my land.

And in strange lands
Where the fog presses down
And even the street lamps are faint and misty,
I shall remember
The beauty of our nights,
With stars so near
That one could almost stretch and touch them,
Stars-winking and flashing
Magnificently-in a sky of velvet blue.

I shall remember
Walking down long avenues of trees,
The black asphalt flecked with pale moonlight
Pouring through the acacia leaves-
And the soft laughter of girls
Leaning back, cool and inviting
Against the trunks of flaming poinciana trees.

And in the long days when the rain falls sullenly
And no sun shines
And all the earth lies in a weary stupor
I shall remember
The splendour of our sun
The brightness of our days.

And how the rain poured down
Upon a passionate thirsty earth,
Swiftly, unrelenting, with immeasurable power,
Then vanished suddenly in a peal of childlike laughter
And all the earth was green and light once more.



I shall remember
The warmth of our island seas,
The sparkling whiteness of the breaking waves
And the blue haze on our hills and mountains
With their noisy streams cascading down
Sheer cliffs, in clouds of incandescent spray
And deafening sound.

And in strange cities
Among unaccustomed people
Who move palefaced with tired staring eyes
I shall remember
The warmth and gaiety of my people
The polyglot colour and variety of their faces
The happy fusion of our myriad races
In the common love that unites and binds us to this land.

And I shall yearn for the sight
Of faces black and bronzed,
People with dark sparkling eyes
With ready tongue
And laughter loud and unashamed.

I shall remember
The faces of the women from the hills
Bringing down strange fruits
To Saturday's markets.

I shall remember
The tread of their feet on the naked earth
Their unconscious strength and poise,
As with basket bearing head thrown back,
They stride to town
Like Israel to the promised land.

Yes, I shall remember always
This my island and my people
And I shall remember always
The beauty of my people and my land.



It takes a mighty fire
To create a great people.

It takes a mighty fire
To smelt true steel-
To create and temper steel
Needs patience and endurance-
But oh what steel
And what a people
Are my people.

The mould is not yet made-perhaps,
That can unite and make my people one.
But more important than the mould
Is the temper of the steel-
The spirit of my people.

Their's is a vitality
A quality of living
That knows no equal.

It is difficult steel to smelt-
They are crude and simple,
Dark and deep,
But oh what steel
And what a people
Are my people.

And when that steel is smelted
And when that steel is tempered
And when that steel is cast
Oh what a people shall my people be I



The emerald joy of the morning hills
Holds the flutt'ring heart
A truant bird,
Caressed by chords of humming leaves,
Gay sun-hoarding granaries.

And all loved days that ever were
Come skipping down the singing lanes
And hold our hands,
Sun-kissed with theirs,
To dance around the maypole years.

So ancient gods in alien hush
Watched this day dawn in Arawak eyes,
A lullabee stilling their strife and ours.
0 bounteous giver, Carib-cradled sun.
This kiss has healed, this bright benediction won.


Poui Spell

Gay, bridal, the sun and you
Sing to the festal sky;
A melodious fanfare
Of sunrise and moonrise, you,
In flowery vision,
Bear glowing vows and passion high.

Out of a myriad days and dreams
A virgin moment bore
Flowers of missal fire,
Flames of cloistral gleams,
Twinkling tapers
Where hills enshrine and vales adore.

Tilt not this chalice of June
From lips and heart and laughter
Tranced in the waltz of petals
Breathing a fadeless noon.
These moments are aeons
Needing no hereafter.

Thus, in rapture with no falter
We dance with you in the sun;
But day, alas, dies young,
And the jaguar night bounds after
Our dreamless dancing,
Tree and beatitude, one.


The Rice Planters

The mermaids rose from out the water into the glare
Shaking their hair
From drops of brown muddy water
Hovering there:
Their long-legged wooers flashing short curved arcs
Of steel, erase the smiling pastel green
That roof the flooded parks,
Unfeathered pelicans
Wading on human feet, of unknown hue
You semaphore
No strange tongue
Save that which Pharoah knew
Who built the sphinx.


Beneath the Casuarinas

We walk slowly beneath the casuarinas,
Our feet make no sound on the thick pile spread
Beneath the trees' shade: all is silent:
We walk with muted footsteps and no word is said.
Overhead the casuarinas strain upward to the sky,
Their dull green plumage vainly poised for flight;
Around us everything is strange and still
And all is filled with an unreal light;
We might be walking along the timeless floor
Of a sea where desolate tides forever creep,
Or roaming along the secret paths
That wind among the twilight plains of sleep.
And then what is that sound which falls
On the ear in the stillness? Is it the beat
Of the blood in the pulse, or the sigh
Of the casuarinas in the midday heat?
The sound of the sea in the curled shell pressed
To the eager ear hearts' lost content
The empty mouthing of the long-forgotten dead
The winds' secret the old lament
Of all creation silence made manifest
In sound? We shall never know.
We pass from their shadow out into the sunlight,
And the silence echoes and re-echoes within us as we go.


Chanson Triste

Are you loved?
Weep; for the doll may never return
The kisses its mother
Nor know what joy in her heart shall burn.

Do you love?
Rejoice; though your arms shall take
Only a broken
To your bosom, and your hungry heart break.



We too shall come down to the sea,
Past the gay green gardens of the heart's munificence,
Past the lichened pathway where the rust
Stains the stone and the forked tree stands desolate,
Down to the sands
Where the shattered bones of leviathan
Are strewn with coral splinters and the wrack of lands.

We shall come down to the sea again
Whence we once crawled landward
To rear our gardens and palaces and temples;
For always there has lingered, echoing the ancient memory
Within the bone,
Persistent, the song of the sea-shell:
And naught shall silence that insistent monotone.

We shall return. See,
On the bright sands her waves have strewn
Golden coronals to welcome us!
Crowned as kings we shall return-
We who have fled
From her dark embrace, back to our mother, the sea,
The crowding sea, vomiting her living and her dead.




O heart, the present is always sorrow,
And the hopes you cherished, clasped now
Like dead birds, sing of no to-morrow.

Clasped close; the cunning hands
Of memory, the taxidermist, striving
To restore their plumage as your will demands.

But the ranging torrent of their life is stilled
Forever in the casuistry of your making,
Behind the mask of waking, unfulfilled.


Portrait of Mr. X

I should like to paint you a portrait of Mr. X:
Not, you will understand me, such a portrait
As might be effected by camera or brush,
Pencil or pen. That has been done,
That has been accomplished. No,
I should like to present that which Mr. X is,
The Mr. X not seen by human or by camera eye:
Mr. X himself, X, as always, the unknown

And, first and foremost, his viscera would have to be presented:
All the tremendous implications
Of that unseen, improbable metropolis-
Its remarkable storehouses of energy,
Its sewerage system, its marvels of communication,
Its workers busy on repair, its slum areas,
Its arterial highways, its chemical laboratories,
Its alternating periods of inflation and depression,
Its longwave stations-all these the background.

And sprawling haphazardly around
Would be the Mr. X you might have seen:
The appurtenance of flesh, the forked symbol.
The knobbly knees, the pale and flabby hands,
The sloping shoulders and the modest paunch,
The mild defective eye behind the lens,
The prim demeanour, the unassuming tie:
These the social pattern, like his underwear.

Yet all these not as colour; perceived rather
As texture and temperature. Colour I should keep
For other matters: for his motion through space and time,
The delicate blue theme of his breathing, his gamboge
Slumber; and to illustrate his dreams,
The golden mystery of hidden suns,
Each sun a wild and glittering stallion,
Tameless by night,
But gelded for diurnal thoroughfare.


And there should be dim green dells for memories
Of lost playthings, of magic swords and invisible cloaks;
And one would be able to lick the paint
And it would be chocolates in silver paper,
Redcoated wooden soldiers,
And moonstain through a broken pane of glass.

But from these dells strange flowers would thrust,
Strange hothouse flowers skewered on wire
By means of appropriate catchwords
(Sing yo-ho for the status quo)
And tinted with the sober shades of respectability
(And a yo-ho-ho for the libido),
And silver in the plate on Sundays,
And a flag-
A flag, his country 'tis of her, the irresponsible archangel.

And then superimposed upon these primaries
(A bit woolly around the edges
As most of these productions are)
His workaday reactions: shaving, etcetera,
The morning newspaper, two fried eggs
As befits the father of a family, boy and girl,
And schoolfees for the children;
Accountant or what not with a dash of bitters,
And a refrigerator, and people dropping in of an evening,
And a radio and gossip and a ghost
Of something, somewhere, refusing to be laid
(O wind, O sea, O stars), rising sometimes
At inopportune moments from the next twinbed,
And prime beef and indigestion on Sabbath afternoons-
The indignity of idleness.
These would be done in mauve and pinkish greys
With here and there a touch of sepia ..
A tinge a twinge a fringe to round off the portrait:
Securities for security, and a life insurance
For ath's assurance.


Also, pale and thin,
A halo, slightly phosphorescent, like the leavings
Of a sunset, a halo of self-sacrifice; and a cross,
The wooden whisper of a tree that never bloomed.
For Mr. X's portrait is not to be sketched in merely,
Nor is this adumbration an afterthought;
He must be presented in every possible dimension,
Capable of infinite extension. But until
Such a portrait can be effected,
Caught within some bottleneck of x,
His individual talents wither, fade,
And float unharvested upon the swift and sterile air.



Moonlight In the Caura Valley

Tonight the valley is a silver lake,
Its wooden cottages like arks adrift
On its broad bosom; palm-trees, half awake,
Their wind-hushed branches to the moon uplift.

The higher stars have vanished, put to rout
By the moon's brilliance; and above us now
Only the larger, lower stars stand out
Like a huge circlet on the mountain's brow.

Scarcely a sound disturbs the quiet night;
Now suddenly a woman's laughter rings,
And now a lover wins some new delight
From his guitar's low, silver-sounding strings.

But soon the woman's laugh is heard no more;
The lover, weary of sound-harmonies,
Stops playing; all is quiet as before,
Save for the ghosts of laughter in the trees.



Have seen the summer convex of the wounded sky
want to catch it and clutch it and make it sing
of the wild wind's whisper and the hard-boiled sun
and the blue day kissing my mountain away
where the hawks dip wing-tipped diving.

Have seen the curved mane of the wind-whipped cane
want to snap it and squeeze it and make it rain
on the roots of the summer-tree withering
where my mountain mouths lie sleeping
and the hawks dip wing-tipped diving.

Have seen the curving prism of the rainbow's shaft
want to pluck it and plait it and make it bend
to pattern in the brain of the mountain top
where my grief is sighing like a fingered stop
where the hawks dip wing-tipped diving
and the graves are green at the world's end.


(From "Report on a Village")

I praise the glorious summers of pimento
Sun-purple, riper than the wet red clay-smell
Of my youth by cornlight and river-run
As dog and I, we screamed the small green hill
And the salt smooth wind from the leaping sea
Sang in the yellow sunflower.

I praise the dumb scared child made me
In coffee-groves, and the barbecues of graves,
Smelling of ghosts' old country flesh, laid
By my father for his tribe (fictitious as angels);
A small all-alone boy riding to harvest hymns
In the green of the day as the shackle-bell tongued
On the church hill-top.

I praise the legends we made
When the drunk hawks and worse were merry
Waltzed up the day
Halloed the mountains of birds and the nestling curve of the
reeling river
Swam, those eyes reading the first garden's blush and Adam's.
When weathers twisted the old thunder-voice
I was King Arthur's irrelevant steed on the lightning page
All races, all men, the drunk hawks and worse
Climbing together the top of the colourless rain
To the dappling sun.

I praise all this
Returning in a shower of mango-blossoms-
The creaking village, the old eyes, the graves, the sun's kiss-
And lonely as ever, as the bare cedars,

I walk by the stream (where boys still plash
Dusking and falling in a star-apple sunset,)
And find her there, ancient as the lost lands,
Bandannaed and gray and calling:
Then I read the monumental legend of her love
And grasp her wrinkled hands.


The Singing Negress

She sang, coming up the road,
A song of Halleluias
Shrill upon the night.
Sometimes the wind blew all the notes into a chord-
And then again, grown amorous of one,
Hung breathless for its longer life.
A song it was of little sweetness
But old as slavery;
And in the cradle-days
My nurse had sung it-
Sadly like this-
As though her world were still in chains,
As though when dreams come true
One has forgotten all the joy of dreaming them,
And cannot make fulfilment sweet
With tears of empty waking.
Was it yesterday she sang this song?
And in the evening whilst I slept
She taught it to another-
Sadly to sing like wind in empty places
Shrill upon the night,


Ave Maria

From a church across the street
Children repeat
Hail Mary, full of Grace.
Skipping the syllables; Follow-the-leader pace.

A little girl, (the Lord is with thee,)
White in organdy,
Lifts her starched, black face
Towards the barricaded altar
Meadowed in lace.

(Blessed art Thou among women.)
Her child's fingers rove the coloured beads
One after one.
(Blessed is the fruit of Thy womb,-)
Yea; and blessed, too.
Ripe fruit on trees, window-close,
Under a tropical sun.

Bend low the laden bough
Child-high; sweeten her incense-laden breath
With food, good Mary. (Holy Mary, Mother of God.
Pray for us sinners.) And for the blameless,
Now, before the hour of their death,


Expect No Turbulence

Expect no turbulence, although you hold me fast,
For this, where late my love lay, beats no more.
Confute, perplex not; only shield me from the past.
What might have been is lost, not gone before.

Though in the night your surgent need impels
Your body to seek comfort, bruising me awake,
I will not shrink, though all your flesh repels;
Nor sanctuary deny, while we communion take.

For we, two lost, two hungry souls, will meet
At common board, with common need for bread.
You, in the wood, will gather berries sweet;
I, in the dark, taste the salt flesh of the dead.


"Birth Is...."

Birth is too bloody; we resist the end
The throes, the after-birth and after-care
Of child and mother. Darkly unaware
We start the perfumed path whose sudden bend
At dawn to us reveals the unknown friend.
The agony of mother and child we fear,
We are solicitious, nor God nor air
We trust: without security we will not lend

Our precious selves to poor posterity.
Suppose our seed to Faith should swell
And make demands on our temerity I
Or throes like waves should dash the spell
That dreams ourselves the final verity
Against infinite shores to splintered shell.


Earrings In Your Ear

Earrings in your ear
The immemorial
Sunshaft in your smile
Slant of old world
Wisdom playing
About your lips.

Through the pages of time's
Album you appear
With changed post awhile
But behind the taught stance
You are one and indivisible

The web of your eyes
Is a prison
Where I would stay
Mirrored in your glance
Teetering on the tight-rope
Of your sigh.

To stretch the strings
Of my heart elastically
With taut fingers
In delight that is your will
Eternal woman.

Like circles outspread
Beyond the puncture
Of the pool
My mind whirls
In the dizzy danger
Of your touch.

Your kiss is steel
Drawing my faith
From beneath the flesh
Daylight sliding down
Heaven with cheer.


Time alone will distil
The stab of these moments
Into a memory
When you become
A touch of wind
Against my cheek.

But now remain as you are
Churning the waters of my spirit
Like a spinning wheel and
On the diary of my day's dreams.


The Engine

The wires discharge their swarms of birds;
The screaming engine speeds, black puffs
The trail behind. Through fields whose herds
Contented crop the tallest tufts
He curves his way; now hedges flank
His sides; a hut; then rows of cane
Where women clear each weed-clothed bank
And now he's for the sun-swept plain.
A fierce wild joy vibrates his frame.
He shrieks! He sings! So madly gay I
The vast green land his destined game,
Avid, he leaps upon the prey.
This Mammoth slays; those ravenous jaws
Relentless crunch each conquered mile,
Nor does repletion bid him pause;
Insatiate he feasts, the while
His flaming furnace goads him on.
He pants beneath the riding sun.


The Unreturning

Chiseled from the marble of memory
Of the unreturning rapture of youthful days
But impalpable and indistinct
As shadows in a legend of moonlight
The image of an early lover appears
And from the old crone's lips cries drip:
'Time was he was my lover.
I found him all fire, fire that burned
Through the flesh to the core of my being,
But he spoke in strange idiom
Of roses wrought in flame
And of insidious sunshine
That soon would kiss each rose
Into perpetual darkness,
And I, through pride, pretended perception.
O wherefore was I proud and why
Did they, the ancient women and anxious men
Who through his veins ran frantic,
Why did they hate me thus who now,
A monument of antique bone,
Grown cold and by my lover beguiled,
Wail through the intimate dark
Though stone-deaf ears hear not my cries?'


And The Pouis Sing

In far days in happy shires
In the perfumes that all day creep
From virgin moulds, in the fires
Of a sullen but tolerant sun, deep,
Our roots drilled deep and found
In caverns underground
Sweet water
Rich as the laughter
That slept in Carib eyes before fierce slaughter

Through the soft air falling,
Swifter than the sleek hawk dives
On the dove, on silent wing
Pilfered their caciques lives
At our feet in our shade
Where once they had played
In childhood
Children of the sun
Who prayed to the sun to avenge their blood.

Hostile grew the sun and pitiless
Spear sword arrow of light grew fiery
And in the blindness of their bitterness
Bored bird and beast and tree;
Under the whip of savage winds
And intricate with wounds
Necrotic flesh
Fell fold by fold from flanks
That never before had known the driver's lash.

Old, we are old before our prime
(Springs of laughter ran dry
And hearts atrophied) and in our time
Have heard lips lift their cry
To the stone-deaf skies, have seen
How the hawk has been
Stripped of pride
In necessary propitiation;
In vale on hill where slave and cacique died


lIave seen from the blood arise
The cactus, live columbarium
Of the winged tears of indignant eyes,
And from its flowers come
Dim odours, sweetening the air
Through the desolate years
And bringing
To brittle, barren hearts
Auguries of new days, new faith, bright singing.


The Sea And The Hills
For Jo I

Waves slithering over brown-skinned rock,
Hissing of waves as they mount the rocks-
By a pool appropriate with coral,
Caught in a column of sunlight I see you
A girl, and yet more goddess than girl,
Brittle in beauty and bright as coral,
And words rage in my heart's darkness.
Midst the sibilant statements of the waves
A voice calling back from the future
Skewers the heart on a shaft of love,
The perennial pain no prayer assuages-
The sunlight fades, the vision perishes,
All is darkness.
But that was another day.
Hillside studded with rocks and bramble,
And I have come into these high hills today
For I would carve you a song.
I am out of the sound of the sea,
I have come into these bird-infested hills
For today is a day of prayer and praise
And I would carve you a song
More lasting than marble, more beautiful
Than any goddess caught in alabaster.
But rock-coloured girl first tell me
Was it you that I saw? Was it you?
Was yours the bird-shaped voice that called me ?
Or was it some goddess trapped in the coral
Confined in rock for an ancient wrong
Turning in pain as the waves tormented her?
Goddess or girl whichever you are, hear me:

From high on this heavenward hill
I gaze on the bay below me
Where waves, instinct with violence,
Crawl towards the woman-bearing rocks,
And wishing to thank you (my girl, my goddess,
Who brings me back my singing voice
Though afraid of the smart of her aching blood)
From the crest of my lovw I shape this prayer:


Though a poet approach her rayed in love,
His fond, fund words, through her foliage of flesh
Through her branching veins, swiftly winging,
May her arms never know the torment
Of encircling this obdurate lover
For his grief is as old as Adam and Eve,
And his heart is ringed round with raging words.

If she, embayed in his arms,
Turn in pain and cry for the moon,
Though her crime be as ancient as woman
O let her not know confinement in rock
For the sea is within us, is intractable,
Rages in a twitch of the heart and traps us
With promises of a more auspicious season:
And all men know that the too hot heart
Shall ache into stone ere this ancient rock
Chafes into blood once more.
The prayer ends,

The singing perishes, vision and sunlight
Are shattered by the raging dark.



Lines Written On A Train

If, in response to the sobbing
Of wheels consuming miles of rail
Or the spirituals the peasants sing,
My heart was to flutter and reel

And my eyes to fill with tears,
He would not understand who sits
At my side and silently shares
The display of commonplace sights:

The fields where restless fires
Cause a horse to break his rope
And flee erratic, through the choirs
That moving sing and singing reap

The canes; for mine and mine alone
Is the thought, that through the peasants' hearts-
Though they seem as callous as stone-
Some river runs which soothes their hurts,

While willy-nilly hearts like mine
Must roam ten thousand years of days
Afraid, lest with intractable whine
The river absorb the fire that slowly dies,




That you should come
Like a common worm
Into my yard
Ragged and odorous
Screwing up your face
In unimaginable agony
And with a gesture absolute in despair
Stretch out your hand
Palm upwards

Go way. I have nothing.
So much for charity
A barefaced slap
Dazed and puzzled he stood
Waiting as if that cracked picture of man
Could storm the barricaded conscience
Waiting with walled patience
Go way, I repeated fiercely. Nothing.
Surprise wiped patience
Hurt, surprise
Anger, hurt
It was done
The unpardonable offence committed
I chased from my doorstep
A beggarman

And what of the ultimate insult to manhood
Committed by this scarecrow
Why in this vast and vaunted freedomage
Should he
Wearing the rags of his decayed inheritance
Self-pitying, self-humiliating
Face furrc,\wed with a thousand years
Of trampling on
Why come to stand before me
A mocking testament
Even my dog begs with more dignity


You scarecrow in my yard
Your grotesquerie is a lie
Carved on the conscience of time
That we are brothers
You deny the wasted manhood
Coursing your stiff bones
If you want what I have
Earn it
Lie rob burn kill

Win the shuddering admiration
Of a world grown weary with humility
But do not, do not
Stand there
A broken dumb image of a man
Palm upstretched
You'll get no judgment here

So he turned away with his hurt angry look
Ill masking hate
Went out my garden gate like a sick dog
And in my pocket burned
Three bright red pennies
And in my bones
A twisted agony
Go away
I hate you


Worthing: Midnight

Arrest the clockwork of the world,
Place a rough palm on the sky,
Now that in every wood
Of the fanned, coral-twigged sea,
In the folds of every furled
Cloth of weeds where shy fish stood
Today in salt-strained light,
In the grooved symmetry
Of the waves' footprints on their floor.
And in the pools that lie
For high tide through the reef's door,
In the unwinking sight
Of the moon on its eucharist height,
Beneath the whipping wind
And the stars hung in chains,
In each sea-chamber, on each kind
Sofa or coverlet weed
Every lithe flank, every shell,
Each finned or prickled breed
Wears the camouflage of sleep
And quietly disdains
The possibly waking net
Or curious teeth from the deep,
Now the sky's dial tells
Midnight: while on the shore
The crabs in red and jet
Cool in their nests of sand
Have tucked in legs and eyes,
And each long-necked bird in a core
Of plumage has hidden its head.

It is some hours too late
For any sound of fisherman's wand
Or bargaining by the boat
After the toil of the net
From sun low to sun straight
o. To dew-time of the sun's bed


And the chill locked out with a coat;
Some hours beyond the time
Of wives on the beach, and girls
With skirts full of shells,-
Some hours beyond the time
Of the faces of my company.

Although the cunning mime
Of branches, as the wind curls
Its whip round sea-grape stems,
And the shadows' gaunt comedy
Play to only my eye,
Though drunks, fishermen's girls,
Voices, all my friends
Have gone, both tatters and pearls.
There is a pain which quells
That other: -my intricate need,
And the coming hymn that I fear
And make without company.
At this hour and anvil I work,
Alone, to the wavelets' beat,
To break facility, greed,
Dishonesty's politeness, hate,
All the sins that lurk
In the sly nooks of the heart,
Approaching, I trust, the feat
Of ultimate innocence
And knowledge.

Now I celebrate
In my hymning fool's career
The careful singer's part
For my need's recompense.



There Were Those

There were those who were
walking mountain paths by night
In search of stars
And those who strayed amidst the flowers
That held the glowing sunset
caved within their open lips

Many by chance have met with
sprig-eared goat kids on the
slippery rocks
And loved their wild glass eyes
And their catapult trips
But I, coming around the corner
of dirty streets
Have met upon small negro boys
Little dirty chips
With stars in their eyes
And flowers between their lips.


A Carol In Minor

When you have wrapped the last packet
Sealed the last message, signed
The last wish, tucked
The last forgotten friendship in the envelope;
When you have finished trying to bind
This year's sins in pretty little
Confessions of red paper,

Then pause once or twice
Under the gay fragments
Of tinsel Christs
That you have hung about you,

And confess yourself
Ready for everyman's goodwill.

Does it matter if you fell
Bored of your own worshipping
When your rubbled stars could tell
Of no new saviour purchasing
Unto his blood your poverty?

Does it matter if after
Two days of love you will sweep
All your broken pints of laughter
Into the last flaccid heap
Of this year's garbage of prosperity?

We are not wise enough for sorrow,
And our confessions come
Only to clear a path
For the next sin.

So next year's proffered candy
Will take care of its own atonements,
And the tinsel gods will briefly tide
Your quick devotions, and wine
Will be handy to hide
The Christless glare
Of your rubbled star-in-the-east;
And you will-
Under new fragments-confess yourself
Ready for every man's goodwill.


Perhaps Not Now

Perhaps not now the crop's comfort,
The chair with its deep harvest of rest,
Afternoon's unhurried naps.
Not now the day,
Some Other Time perhaps;
As yet only work, and waiting, and dreaming and the dust.

They say we must forgive the soil's sins,
Dry echoes of neglect that lurk
Still in its bones. Dumb yet
Is the red clay,
Unlivened by our blood's breath,
For sweet is blood is life to the cold veins of fields we work.

And yet this soil is ours.
And toil is love; for our hearts,
Hardened as bones by the sick blight of prayers unanswered,
Have known no other wooing
Save in the dust our harsh hands are dumb,
And idle our tears, no leisure for lament.
For toil, not tears, our love .
So with the clod's naked caress on our feet
We can hate in silence the sun laughing
At our bent backs, knowing
That the same fingers that hollow out the seed's grave
Will nurse soon arisen spirits of a tender vengeance,
Sprouting green-winged over the dust;
And the recompense of fat furrows
Waiting in deep shade of tannia leaves,
Yams and cotton, the cane's generous blood,
And the white dust binding the veins
Of arrowroot in season,-these will in time
Shelter our children's backs from the sun's slaughter

So if not now the reaper's boon of rest
The crop's beatitude,
And dry echoes still harry the bones of earth,
Tell soon the day-
The Other Time-when love and our toil
Shall quicken the sick crust, and give our waiting worth.
And hope nourish our dreaming in the harvest-hoarding dust.


Carnival Rhapsody

Beat dem drums
!cys beat dem drums,
a-,t and loud and sweet,
Dey go ge we consolation,
Dey go ease we sufferation,
Down Frederick Street,
Down Frederick Street,

So beat dem drums
Boys beat dem drums,
'Til Federation come
Den we go jump in time
To the Creole rhyme,
Around de town.
Around de town.

And beat dem drums
Boys beat dem drums,
'Til de Jour-Vert Monday comes
When de Judge jump up,
In de parson's frock,
And de Doctor play de clown.

So beat dem drums
Boys beat dem drums,
Look I ah feel de rhythm in me spine,
Ah feel de rhythm,
In me chac-chac wine,
Shaking me far behind.

And beat dem drums
Boys beat dem drums,
Ah feel de rhythm in me soul,
Ah feel de rhythm in me Creole blood,
E go stap wid me 'til ah ole.
E go stap wid me 'til ah ole.



By no other name are these
The imperturbable birds more beautiful,
No likelier image for the summer's curl
Of white light caught from the sea's
Arterial cells; or the moon's wry
Face carved on the curved aristocratic sky.

Sailing the solitude of their customary waters
Dark and dimpled in the windy morning,
Instinct prompts a ritual of preening
The rude arrangement of their feathers,
And leaping with the leaping light of dawn
They crown the river with a white perfection.

Later the circus arrives
With its ready-made apparatus of pleasures,
Dogs and women and the dutiful masters
Of small boats swimming their lives
Through charted areas of water
And chuckled warnings of the wind's laughter.

The birds thoughtful, decorous, austere,
Retreat to a far side of the river,
Their eyes held in a puzzled stare
Measure their recently arrived spectator.
Some cluster to a deep deliberation
Or ponder in amazement their own reflection.

Leisurely the evening ambles,
Through the stained air, on torn leaves,
Over the lame, dry grasses,
Sadly, silently the late light falls,
And the waving curl of water dies
Where the winged white quietude at anchor lies.

Now blank desertion fills the senses,
Over the howling city
Louder than the cry of industry,
The moon sheds a contagion of madness,
And water fills the eyes of the visitor
Entering the legend of this historic river.


Men of Ideas

Men of ideas outlive their times
An idea held by such a man does not end with his death
His life bleeding away goes down
Into the earth, and they grow like seed
The idea that is not lost with the waste of a single life
Like seed springing up a multitude

They hanged Gordon from a boom
Rigged in front of the Court House
They hanged him with eighteen others for company
And Jesus had but two
But the ideas for which Gordon lived
Did not hang with him
And the great social revolution for which Jesus died
Did not die with him
Two men they nailed with Jesus side by side
Eighteen went to hang with Gordon from the new-rigged boom
But the idea of equality and justice with Gordon
Went into the ground and sprung up like seed, a multitude
A hundred years the seed was a-growing in the ground
A hundred years is not too long
A hundred years is not too soon
A hundred years is a time and a season
And all things must wait a time and a season
And the time and the season for each growing thing
Is the way, and there is no other
The time and the season of its growing and bearing fruit
Are inherent in the nature of the seed
And inherent in it is its growth and its fruit
And this is the way there is no other
A hundred years is not too long
For the seed to burst its husk under the ground
And cleave a path and press upward
And thrust a green blade in triumph at the sun
Do not be anxious for the house that is a-building
For the unsown acres under the plough
For all things await a time and a season.


The dream given to one man in the night
Not night nor darkness can call it back again
They hanged George William Gordon for the dream
He had been given in the night
That he carried in his breast
Thinking to put the dream to death
With the man they put to shameful death
But they give immortality to the dream
That time the man is put to death
For the dream is all
It is all of a man that there is and immortal
And all of immortality of a man there is.

A long time ago they hanged George William Gordon
But not so long
A long time ago
They put Jesus on a cross
But not so long
For all things have a time and a season
A long time ago
The pea doves took the sweet wood seeds
And let them fall on the valley bottoms
That are now the virgin forest of the great backlands
Of new timber, a long time
Were the bare rock-spure growing
That is now a matted forest floor
Where the wild birds took and dropped
The little sweet kernels of the tall timbers
A long time ago, but not so long
For all things have a time and a season
And a hundred years is not too long
And a hundred years is not too soon.

They hanged Gordon with eighteen others
They nailed Jesus between two thieves
But the ideas these men lived for did not die with them
A single grain of corn will yield an ear of corn
And an ear of corn in two generations will sow a field
And these things befall between a moon and a moon
All things await a time and a season
And twice a hundred years is not too long
Or twice a hundred years too soon.


I am Jamaica

I am Jamaica-
And I have seen my
children grow
Out of their separate
Out of the absolute
truth of me:
Out of my soil
Into false shadows.
And I have wept
that the strangers with
and red faces
who survey my pas-
sive sorrow
call me beautiful
and Isle of Springs.
And God I
I have no voice
to shout out my
When their vile trap-
pings brush
my skin:
Their filthy coppers
reach my children's
These palms: my
My flesh beloved
But where, oh where
my spirit;
Where my self, my fire?
Lost, I wander
through a sunlit night
Beseeching, beseeching my
belly's result
to turn from other Gods
to turn on me
The dawn
of their regard.



Carry me up some morning to the
Now that I have
Here among the stone
piles have
I died;
Here upon the sterile
Here by the cacti crucified.

Therefore carry me
some morning up
To my father,
Who is all knowledge
And all strength
All wisdom and all
All there is of Truth
All greenhills: I fulfilled

Carry me up some morning
Carry me up some
morning to the
Where I shall live again
Where I have
never died.



Patches of black
In the pitch
Make the most
Unusual patterns:
Irregular blocks,
Birds' wings,
Shapes of ships,
Animals' heads,

This is the
Road-mender's art:
With tar and gravel
To design
A dozen or more
Shapes and figures;
To figure out
From fancy only
How to inlay
Gravel and tar .....


To My Mother

It is not long, not many days are left
Of the dead sun, nights of the crumbled moon;
Nor far to go; not all your roads of growth,
Love, grief, labour of birth and bone
And the slow slope from the blood's noon
Are shorter than this last.

And it is nothing. Only the lusty heroes
And those whose summer's sweet with lust
And wine and roses fear. The children do not;
Theirs is young Adam's innocence.
The old do not; they welcome the earth's suction
And the bone's extinction into rock.

The image of your beauty growing green,
Your bone's adolescence I could not know,
Come of your middle years, your July loins.
I found you strong and touch as guava scrub,
Hoeing the growing, reaping the ripe corn;
Kneading and thumping the thick dough for bread.

And now you're bowed, bent over to the ground;
An old gnarled tree, all her bows drooped
Upon the cross of death, you crawl up
Your broken stairs like Golgotha, and all the dead
Beckon your dying bones ...

I do not mourn, but all my love
Praise life's continuity the endless year.
I see death broken at each seed's rebirth.
My poems labour from your blood
As all my mind burns on our peasant stock
That cannot be consumed till time is killed.

Oh, time's run past the time your hands made bread
To this decrepitude; but in the stream
Of time I watch the stone, the image
Of my mother making bread my boyhood long,
Mossed by the crusty memories of bread.
O may my art grow whole as her hands' craft.


Lady By The Sea

Lodged over and against the sea
You hear continually her grief and rage
Continually your heart is chasmed to her passage,
Her pouring through the arteries of your being,
The bay of your dwelling.

She is the blood's source taste and the lymph's look;
Beauty's her daughter, that most beautiful one,
That goddess, the eternal woman
Who walks within men's dreams,
Tragic and lovely as her mother the sea
Century after century.

Your ocean knows the folktale of our grief.
We groaned in her green jaws
Passaging in Trades in a crazed time,
In the tiger's yawn of the torrid doldrum;
We had not dreamed such waters
Who had known only rivers, torrents
And the land mammoth, mountainous
Or rolling out beyond the heart's horizons;
But earth stood up for us,
We crawled out upon islands
And leeched again like trilobite to rock.

Shames were our household goods,
And our gods fled,
And our speech stumbled to silence
On these parishes our hearts hold now
With love green as the landscape,
Peopling the archipelago with hope.
That love or this sad death:
The beached shell weeping its dry tears,
Continually echoing the dead sea.

Look, beauty burns:
Scape and flower delight the child and stranger;
The cloud swims in the wind, wind in the light;
The sea around us, the dark womb of earth,
Eternity is fluid, constant, terrible



And splendid beyond all feeling;
And you, our lady, looking on the sea,
The black rose our blood bears out of its fortitude,
Century after century.

Each rock each pastoral green scene
Ate yesterday's passover,
Sees history writing down our stress and anger,
Nursing tomorrow's foetus in her womb,
Knowing the torrid tones of the harsh zone.
We build, build hearth and temple,
Plant, pray for harvest,
Our roots prospect for water.

Blood grows and blooms:
One hand may disinter
All the folkfaces stationed in the stone;
One mind may knead the nation's
Till each island eat one large philosophy;
One poet's dream may join the people's
And rejoin the wind and sun and sea,
Flowering and fruiting like a tree
Century after century.



Seven splendid cedars break the trades
From the thin gables of my house,
Seven towers of song when the trades rage
Through their rich green season foliage.
But weathers veer, the drought returns,
The sun burns emerald to ochre
And thirsty winds strip the boughs bare.
Then they are tragic stands of sticks
Pitiless noons
And wear dusk's buskin and the moon's.

And north beyond them lie the fields
Which one man laboured his life's days
One man wearying his bone
Shaped them as monuments in stone,
Hammered them with iron will
And rugged earthly courage,
And going, left me heritage.
Is labour lovely for a man
That drags him daily into earth.
Returns no fragrance of him forth?

The man is dead but I recall
Him in my voluntary song.
His life was unadorned as bread;
He reckoned weathers in his head
And wore their ages on his face
And felt their keenness to his bone
The sting of sun and whip of rain,
He read day's event from the dawn
And saw the quality of morning
In the sunset mask of evening.

In the fervour of my song;
I hold him firm upon the fields
In many homely images.
His ghost's as tall as the tall trees.
He tramps these tracks his business made
By daily roundabout in boots
Tougher and earthier than roots;
And every furrow of the earth
And every wind-blown blade of grass
Knows him the spirit of the place.


A slave-man's son, a peasant one,
Paysan, paisano, any common
Man about earth's fields, world over
In the cotton corn and clover
Who are unsung but who remain
Perpetual as the earth winds pass,
Unkillable as the earth's grass.
And from their graves within their graves
They nourish arteries of earth
And give her substance, give her worth.

O sons, O strong ones from their loins,
Boldly inherit the rich earth
Though you keep their homespun traces
Or run in splendid gilded races.
O poets, painters, thinkers turn
Again and take new craft from old
Worth and wisdom on the wold,
O cornerstones of the crazed world,
O nourishers of earth's best blood
Reclaim the weary dying good.


Sun Is A Shapely Fire

Sun is a shapely fire turning in air
Fed by white springs
and earth's a powerless sun.

I have the sun today deep in my bones
Sun's in my blood, light heaps beneath my skin.
Sun is a badge of power pouring in
A darkening star that rains its glory down.

The trees and I are cousins. Those tall trees
That tier their branches in the hollow sky
And, high up, hold small swaying hands of leaves
Up to divinity, their name for sun
And sometimes mine. We're cousins.

Sheet light, white power comes falling through the air,
-All the light here is equal-vertical-
Plays magic with green leaves and, touching, wakes
The small sweet springs of breathing scent and bloom
That break out on the boughs.
And sun has made
Civilization flower from a river's mud
With his gossamer rays of steel.

These regions wear sharp shadows from deep suns.

The sun gives back her earth its ancient right
The gift of violence.

Life here is ringed with the half of the sun's wheel
And limbs and passions grow in leaps of power
Suddenly flowing up to touch the arc.
Upon this energy kin to the sun
To learn the trick of discipline and slow skill,
Squaring in towns upon an empty map
Hitching rivers to great water wheels,
Taming the fire of domesticity.



Sun is a shapely fire floating in air
Watched by God's eye. The distance makes it cool
With the slow circling retinue of worlds
Hanging up on it.
Indifferently near

Move other stars with their attendant groups
Keeping and breaking pace in the afternoon
Till the enormous ballet music fades
And dies away.

Sun is a shapely fire
Turning in air
Sun's in my blood.


For Christopher Columbus

Music came thundering through the North-East Trades
Fuller than orchestras, and bent the masts
All through the nights and made them sorrow-laden
For green-graced islands that the ships had passed.
Each day broke on an ocean like a wheel
Bound to a hub of ships though driving fast
Deep to the westward under a sky now steel
Blue-gray and fatal, and now sapphire blue
Buttressed with golden evenings men could feel
All of their fears come mellow with the hue.
Behind them lay the far and wistful heights
Of Ferro and the Fortunate Islands and they knew
Back of these Spain, and widowed women, and lights
From lovely Palos glittering on the sea.
This ocean's only jewels on the sight
Were foreign stars that happened suddenly
Upon the dark, burnt fiercely through the hours
Then shrank to pale ghosts with dawn's light, eerie
Upon the lightening day, small silver flowers.
Then desolation came upon the crews
The emptiness men feel of crumbled towers,

Spent arrows falling, and the slackening will to do
Of men who wander to the world's edge and fail
In a doom of ocean with winds blowing true
And deep to westward in their office. Sails
Could never hope for Spain once more, they said,
Against these winds-then, marvellous as a tale,

Small birds came singing at morning and they fled
When night approached.
Men in the ships took heart
Watching each feathered snatch of song and paid
Eagerest heed. But morning's eyelids parted
On miles of ocean meadow, golden weed
Spotted with berries and showing as if by art.

Bright green leaves in the water. Then indeed
The crews made clamour against the Italian's will
Of holding course to India.


At night Columbus paced the poop alone.
Hard to hold men to a vision.
The faith fails
Sometimes even in the dreamer.

Signs, signs.
Today a little branch full of dogroses
Drifted along the ocean's breathing bosom
Imagine roses in ocean
Roses at the edge of the world

The sea was calm like the river of Seville
A day ago and breeze as soft as April
Made fragrant wing to our weary caravels.

Vision, yes, vision.
I, an Italian
Holding three Spanish crews to an unknown land
After how many desert years.
A young man, poor, dreaming on Ptolemy
With his globe, and the maps of Marinus of Tyre,
And the opinion of Alfraganus the Arabian
That the world is not as large as people think

And living in the pages of Marco Polo
The Venetian feted once by the Great Khan.

Sometimes dreams harden and blaze into a vision
That leads the man to hostile courts and wars.
Fighting against the Moors-but the vision blazing
In the warrior's head.

Answering bald-headed friars
Within the Salamanca Council Room.
What St. Augustine and the sages said
How Adam's sons never had crossed the ocean
And peopled the antipodes--answering friars
With the vision burning.

Man must endure the crumbling powers, the crack
Of another's will but hold his vision fast,
Whip muscle and nerve to keep appointed pace
Drive wheel for westward to the couching sun.


Man must adventure to the Sun's declension
Translate his vision into a tower of fact
Despite the loosening limbs, the unstable powers
Failing about him.

Vision moulds clay into a hero despite the man
Cuts him to the brains and drives him hungry
To bring an inviolate star down to the earth.
Vision may break a man to make a city,

Vision's an edge to civilization, carving
Beauty from wilderness and charting seas.
Visionless, man falls back into the animal
With Nature striding in her ancient places.

And look, look-look, a light-Quick, Pedro, come.

And so they came upon San Salvador.
When the dawn broke, the island floated ahead
Thick with the wind-swayed trees upon the shore.

Men shouted and cried for joy to see instead
Of waving waste of ocean, that tangled green,
The shrub and tree all dark with the bright red

Of foreign flowers on the leaves' glossy sheen.
The ships cast anchor with a triple crash
That startled seabirds, whirred them winging, lean

Neck stretched, to bank upon the trees. The splash
Died quickly into winking patches of foam
Widening out upon the swelling wash.

Men crowded boats. The Indians watched them come,
Riding upon the breaking waves to shore.
Until they feared and ran to find their homes

Deep in the woods. His mail Columbus wore,
The glittering cloaked in scarlet, and he sprang
Out on the sea-stained sand and kneeling, poured

His heart to God. On that beach dawn there hangs
A heavy caul of reverence, for kneeling there
The others felt vast choirs of angels sang


Within their hearts to hallow them many a year.
Rising up sworded, Columbus spoke again
And claimed San Salvador for the royal pair
Fernando and Queen Isabel of Spain.

He dreamed not that the ocean would bear ships
Heavy with slaves in the holds, to spill their seed
And fertilize new islands under whips
Of many nail-knotted thongs-dreamt not indeed
Massive steel eagles would keep an anxious watch
For strange and glittering fish where now was weed.
He knew not that a world beneath his touch
Springing to life would flower in cities and towns
Over two continents, nor guessed that such
A ferment of civilization was set down
Would overshadow Europe whence he came.
He could not dream how on the nations' tongue
Discovery would marry with his name.
That to these simple Indians his ships brought doom
For cargo; that the world was not the same
Because his vision had driven him from home
And that as architect of a new age
The solid world would build upon his poem.

And so the day beginning.
In the vast Atlantic
The sun's eye blazes over the edge of ocean
And watches the islands in a great bow curving
From Florida down to the South American coast.

Behind these towers in a hollow of ocean
Quiet from the Trade Winds lies the Caribbean
With the long shadows on her breathing bosom
Thrown from the islands in the morning sun.

And as the wind comes up, millions of palm trees
Weave leaves in rhythm as the shaft of sunlight
Numbers the islands till it reaches Cuba
Leaps the last neck of water in its course.


A Beauty Too of Twisted Trees

A Beauty too of twisted trees .
The harsh insistence of the wind
Writes lines of loveliness within
The being of this tortured trunk
I know that some there are that spring
In effortless perfection still
No beauty there of twisted trees,
Of broken branch and tortured trunk
And knotted root that thrusts its way
Impatient of the clinging clay

John who leapt in the womb has fled
Into the desert to waken the dead
His naked body broken and torn
Knows nothing now of Bethlehem's peace,
And wild of mood and fierce of face
He strives alone in that lonely place.
Ezekiel too saw the dry bones live,
The flames and smoke and conflict give
A lightning flash to the dead man's sight
And Moses smote a rock, no rock
In a weary cactus-land to mock
Hollow men stuffed with straw, but a rock
That freely pours from its stricken side
Water for those who else had died .

And hangs on a twisted tree
A broken body for those who see,
All the world, for those who see,
Hangs its hope on a twisted tree.

And the broken branch and the tortured trunk
Are the stubborn evidence of growth
And record proud of strife, of life

A Beauty too of twisted trees.



Long mountain, rise,
Lift you' shoulder, blot the moon,
Black the stars, hide the skies,
Long mountain, rise, lift you' shoulder high.

Black of skin and white of gown,
Black of night and candle light
White against the black of trees,
And altar white against the gloom,
Black of'Mountain high up there,
Long mountain, rise,
Lift you' shoulder, blot the moon,
Black the stars, black the sky

Africa among the trees,
Asia with her mysteries,
Weaving white in flowing gown
Black Long mountain looking down
Sees the shepherd and his flock
Dance and sing and wisdom mock
Dance and sing and falls away
All the civilised today.
Dance and sing and (ears let loose.
Here the ancient gods that choo,.
Man for victim, man for hate,
Man for sacrifice to fate.

Hate and fear and madness black
Dance before the altar white.
Comes the circle closer still.
Shepherd weave your pattern old.
Africa among the trees
Asia with her mysteries.

Black of night and white ot gown,
White of altar, black of trees,
Swing de circle wide again,
Fall an' cry, me sister, now
Let de spirit come again,
Fling away de flesh an' bone,
Let de spirit have a home.


Grunting low and in the dark
White of gown and circling dance
Gone today and all control,
Here the dead are in control,
Power of the past returns,
Africa among the trees,
Asia with her mysteries,

Black the stars, hide the sky,
Lift you' shoulder, blot the moon
Long Mountain, Rise.



Jamaican Fisherman

Across the sand I saw a black man stride
To fetch his fishing gear and broken things,
And silently that splendid body cried
Its proud descent from ancient chiefs and kings.
Across the sand I saw him naked stride;
Sang his black body in the sun's white light
The velvet coolness of dark forests wide,
The blackness of the jungle's starless night.
He stood beside the old canoe which lay
Upon the beach; swept up within his arms
The broken nets and careless lounged away
Towards his wretched hut .
Nor knew how fiercely spoke his body then
Of ancient wealth and savage regal men.


Year's Ending

No sunset sequence here
With dawn to come
The glory and the fullness of the day.

Time's child, in me
Tomorrow lives with yesterday.

Into my rented house I take
Deed and desire;
In me, Time's child and creature frail,
Fulfilment and prophetic fire.

A bondsman and his tenant I
Follow the strict progression laid
By Time upon the patient earth,
The springing seed that flowers and fades;
Show in myself his changeless will
What time he subtly steals
My round cheeked innocence
And in its place reveals
The grinning eyeless bone.

The Great House one, Time rides the fields
Wide as the world, far as forever
His Great House roof the heavens blue,
With walls that touch eternity.
Bound to his will my body yields.

I from my tenant's cot
My small and rented lot
Observe his timeless vast demesne
His changeless bright today.
I in my changing self
His nature comprehend
And circumscribe his power,
Hold fast and bind within my mind
That which is gone and is to come,
The sunset and the dawn, the deed and the desire.

Time's child, in me
Tomorrow lives with yesterday.


Clear as the Clear Sun's Light

Clear as the clear sun's light
So clear is the water's flight
From the black rocks down
To the waiting sand eager and brown,
Near Gordon Town.
And clear through the broad green leaves
And the shining spears of the water reeds
Through the tangled web of vine and root
Of tangled roots black and wet
With the shining water drops
As swift in its crystal flight the river
Leaves the rock for the sand and pebbles.

The rock and the light and the weaving stream,
Fluid and fixed and fervent.

Trumpets blow and the dead arise
Clanking bones and dead men's cries.
Shiver the mountains huddled close
Beneath their shivering coats of green
Fluid now where once was rock
Melting now where once was stable
Liquid flows volcanic rock
And the brazen sky is mad with sound
And the sun and the moon and the stars appear
And the blazing sky and the melting hills
Uncover the roots of being that lay
Buried beneath the crust of clay.
Fire leaps headlong from the sky
And the rock and the light and the weaving stream
Join in the flaming dance that thrills
Through the earth and the firmament
For that which was fixed is fluid now
And the shaken are the shrivelled skies
Ablaze with the thousand lunatic eyes.

The black rocks twist and writhe and run
Red with the blood red light of the sun
The fire has claimed its ancient place
The fire which slept within the rock
The firrowhich slept within the earth


The fire which slept within the trees
The fire which slept within the clouds
The fire which slept within the skies
The fire that slept has come to birth
And seals with flame the shaking earth
And leaps with quivering flanks of flame
Through the woods and through the rocks
And leaps from cloud to crested cloud
And flames across the shrivelled sky.
Fire that flamed where Eden stood
A sword of flame.

Eden stands by Gordon Town
Cool with the green of leaves and cool
With gleaming water and dripping rock
And cool with the tangled black of roots
Where the river leaps from the tangled rocks to the sand and pebbles.

Green and black and flash of silver.
And around and beneath and about the place
The flash of a flaming sword
The fire holds still its ancient place.

1 4 k Io7


Trees His Testament


Daley's dead; dust now, gone for good
Far over Jordan side
Left his body this side
Of the cold rivet.
Dead now. gone for good
Nobody s(et him till Kingdom come
And the trumpet call beyond the river
And the roll call.
Gone for good,
Lips greedy once for a woman's breast
Still now and silent
Pasture for the worm
Then dust.

Daley was a plumber,
Served his time to Hard Up,
Hungry Belly walked beside him
Never left him quiet
Through the slum he had for home
From door to door he asked
If they wanted toilets fixed
And they laughed for the toilet wasn't theirs anyway.
Walked and tramped from door to door
Raising cash for peace of mind,
Pocket full is belly full
Belly full is peace of mind.
Hungry Belly never left him,
Grinned and gnawed and never left him
Who would mend what wasn't his anyway?
Plumber's dead now, gone for good.
Daley's dead.

Hungry IBell' restless talked
When hle sa\ hic Daley buy
Paint and c; ias for a picture
For a picture when ;a plumber lih
But the painter was a-seeking
For the something that he couldn't
That he kn\\ inside himself he must
Knock and knock until he find


tell about
search and scairch and find,


Past the questions and divisions
Past the doubtings and the troubles
Past the doors and rows of doors
Till at last he saw it all in the trees;
They were quiet and at peace in the pastures
And beside the waters still
And upon the mountain side
Where the drought would parch the roots
And the hurricane would walk in the Summer,
Trunks and roots were hard and torn
Branches broken short, and twisted,
Just to keep a footing there
Just to be a living tree.
Plumber's hand and painter's eye,
Plumber's dead and gone for good,
Daley's dead.

Over now the search for silver
Gone away is Hungry Belly
Off to find a fresh companion;
Dust the feet that walked beside him,
Turned to dust the plumber's hands
But the trees still stand together
Like they're shouting over Jordan,
And, look see how cedar trees
Do shade a garden in that place.
And upon that skull-shaped hill top
When the eye of day is clean
Stand two trees with bitter bearing
And between the two a tree
One between the two that lifts
Bright flowering.


The Vision Comes And Goes

The vision comes and goes
Light does not last
Nor yields the tropic night
That swims with stars
A clearer insight that this furtive mist
Nor gives the sun more flaming truth than snows

Let the wind walk
Where the wind will
Let the streams flow
Where the sea calls
The crags and trees
Sprung from the hill
Are buds and stalks
Of all the vision
Wind would know
And water leaping from the falls

Circle us endlessly
Spin wheel and dance
Touch that is destiny
Touch that is chance
Who shall deliver
Infinite, free
Which wind will tame thee
Boundless past dream
Into what distance
Travels the stream?

Not all the stars
Nor suns
Nor dawns so bright
Nor all the heavens
Quivering with day
Attain the purpose
Or reflect the light
Each is a shadow
Let fall on thy way


Inward and outward
To create and show
Where the darkness obliterates all form
Faith like a river
Down which all life must flow
Like the rainbow
Encircling storm on storm.

O lonely Spirit
Wandering through the glades
Near in mountains
And with friends
And lost sight of
Felt and never known
Long is thine absence
Thick with shades
All about us
Yet here where reason ends
Enter gently
And make thy home.



From Testament

A day ends and a way ends and a world ends here
A day ends and a way ends and a world ends here
And yet so sure the peace
So sure the peace
A clay ends and a way ends and a world ends here.

In self-created blindness waits this earth
And all the peoples lost and shelterless
Stumbling amongst the ruins to the brink
Of utmost ruin. And the world ends here.
And yet so great the peace, this wind so sure
So strong so full of vision that the faith
Loses in last awareness of the source
The great pervading stillness of the root.
O be this pure, O be this free from fault
Of affectation or distrust or fraud
O be this like a flute upon thy lips
Prophetic Night to pour thy mighty hymn.

Old women in the gardens weeding grass
Old men along the quayside fly their nods
The cinemas, the slums and palaces
Declare and spawn the dozen deformed gods.
The builder plies his trowel. Ages pass.
The search receives the seeker. Time still nods.
O be for all this night the birth of faith
And light the road, and long the travelling.

There is a limit to all human ways
There is a limit to all human love
And a great darkness in all human light
Yet faith flows down the river, peace fills trees,
And glory lights the morning when she comes
All wet and radiant from the golden clouds
And walks upon the mountains like a bride.
For there is promise in all human pain
There is a morning in all human night
And life and birth and beauty beyond death.



Let the thunder shake
The old Gods awake
Past and Future break.

I saw my land in the morning
And O but she was fair
The hills flamed upwards scorning
Death and Failure here.

I saw through the mists of morning
A wave like a sea set free
Faith to the dawn returning
Dark tide bright unity.

I saw my friends in the morning
They called from an equal gate
"Build now: whilst time is burning
Forward before it's late."

Then Jamaica
Let the thunder shake
The old Gods awake
Past and Future break
On as the voices roll
Move as a single whole
0 country to your goal


And Music

And fine and free the wind
0 tameless horse
How human are the hills from which you come
And first and keenest light
My sword
How ancient is the darkness of thy home.

And music
Fuller than the sea is full
Fine chain of echoes forged by wind and light
Ribbon of footprints bleeding in the snow
Form of the flame extinguished in the night.

And music
Like upcurling smoke
How beautiful the stillness whence you go.


In Our Land

In our land,
Poppies do not spring
From atoms of young blood,
So gaudily where men have died:
In our land,
Stiletto cane blades
Sink into our hearts,
And drink our blood.

In our land,
Sin is not deep.
And bends before the truth,
Asking repentantly for pardon:
In our land,
The ugly stain
That blotted Eden garden
Is skin deep only.

In our land,
Storms do not strike
For territory's fences,
Elbow room, nor breathing spaces:
In our land,
The hurricane
Of clashes break our ranks
For tint of eye.

In our land,
We do not breed
That taloned king, the eagle,
Nor make emblazonry of lions:
In our land,
The black birds
And the chickens of our mountains
Speak our dreams.


Ask For A Light

Ask for a light, ask for a light.
Dry is the river, soundless
The sea in this dark hour. Tight
The flesh, the heart restless
And unbold. Earth's belly
Does not yield. Portly diviners
Cannot pierce the central wave.
All voices gather at the gate
Together: Ask for a light

Where now is the surety of our footing ?
What has become of our promises?

Ask for a light, ask for a light.
Him you have not welcomed;
Her you disowned outright
Or a little; this you belittled;
That you gave no dint of notice;
The feet clawing here and there,
The breast itself motionless;
Weary, bellowing in the dark
The perishing day.

Who has wrested light from our power,
Time from our knowledge?

Ask for a light, ask for a light.
Down is the sun, the moon
Has passed its quarter. The bright
Day seemed so endless. Noon
Was the time of gossip, friendlessness,
Afternoon was long, and all the day
Stood on the beaches careless.
Ask for a light. For them
That sell in the dark, ask for a light.



Who danced Saturday mornings
Between Immortelle roots
And played about his palate
The mellowness of cocoa beans.
Who felt the hint of the cool river
In his blood,
Ilhe hint of the cool river
Chill and sweet.

Who followed curved shores
Between two seasons.
Who took stones in his hands,
Stones white as milk,
Examining the Islands in his hands;
And shells,
Shells as pink as frogs eyes
From the sea.

Who saw the young corn sprout
With April rain
Who measured the young meaning
By looking at the moon,
And walked roads a footpath's width,
And calling,
Cooed with mountain-doves
Come morning time.

Who breathed mango odour
from his polished cheek.
Who followed the cus-cus weeders
In their rich performance.
Who heard the bamboo flute wailing
Fluting, wailing,
And watched the poui golden

Who with the climbing sinews
Climbed the palm
To where the wind plays most,
And saw a chasmed pilgrimage
Making agreement for his clean return.
Whose heaviness
Was heaviness of dreams,
From drowsy gifts.



For you will the strong wonder of my prayer
Be high ascending.
For you, shuffling too the broken road
You who like 'moonbeam's touch,
With calm magnificence
Lightened my night and eased by burning load:
For you will my fiery fingers, like Immortelles
Be often waving.
For you, robed like new weather
You, who are sprouting grass
Fresh with the kiss
Of earth and rain, at long last come together:

For you will the great blackbirds of my woodland
Be ever singing.
For you, seeking the heart's cures
You, whose breath is a show line
Like a stream,
The large bright sea of all I am is yours.