World bids farewell to Derek Walcott

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World bids farewell to Derek Walcott

17457699_1737206506570325_4761233630179031034_nCMC — Derek Alton Walcott, born in humble surroundings on Chaussee Road and who mesmerised the world with his poetry, plays and paintings, was buried here on Saturday, one week after he died following a prolong illness.

The Nobel Laureate, who died at the age of 87, was eulogised during the just over two-hour state funeral service, as a man who gave Caribbean people an opportunity to “have dreams and have visions”.

Monsignor Patrick Anthony urged the congregation to “be proud of what Derek has done for us as a Caribbean people,” saying that like other great Caribbean icons, including the late Jamaican singer Bob Marley and the athlete Usain Bolt, Walcott has allowed the Caribbean people “to lift our heads high and say we can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world.

“Let us be proud of what Derek has done for us, a Caribbean people,” Monsignor Anthony said.

Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet led the local and international dignitaries at the state funeral held at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in the capital.

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Much of Walcott’s work was used during the service and as his coffin, draped with the national flag of St. Lucia was being taken out of the Church, some of his poems were being read out.

Walcott’s long-time friend, Professor Emeritus Edward Baugh of the University of the West Indies (UWI), in his eulogy, said that the prolific and versatile poet, who was widely respected as one of the greatest writers of the second half of the 20th century, was “never one to blow his own trumpet”.

He recalled the “canny jokes” of Walcott, “the boy of Chaussee Road” who was also “considerate of others working to promote talent where he spotted one”.

Walcott was born on January 23, 1930 in the capital, Castries and he had acknowledged that the experience of growing up on the isolated volcanic island, an ex-British colony, has had a strong influence on Walcott’s life and work.

After studying at St Mary’s College here and at the UWI in Jamaica, Walcott moved in 1953 to Trinidad, where he worked as theatre and art critic. At the age of 18, he made his debut with 25 Poems, but his breakthrough came with the collection of poems, In a Green Night (1962).

In 1959, he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop which produced many of his early plays.

With passions ranging from watercolour painting to teaching to theatre, Walcott’s work was widely praised for its depth and bold use of metaphor, as well as its mix of sensuousness and technical prowess.

“I am primarily, absolutely a Caribbean writer,” he once said during a 1985 interview. Walcott received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992 and the Swedish academy said “in him, West Indian culture has found its great poet”.
17499226_1737315979892711_2253255335975712177_nAmong his best known literary work is the 1990 classic “Omeros”, a 64-chapter Caribbean epic.

Walcott was one two St. Lucians to have received the prestigious Nobel Prize, following Sir Arthur Lewis, who won the award for economics in 1979.

He won the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry in 2011. Walcott received numerous awards including a Royal Society of Literature Award, the Queen’s medal of Poetry and a MacArthur Foundation genius award. In 2016, as part of Independence celebrations, he was given the title of “Sir”, one of the first to be knighted under the Order of St. Lucia.

Walcott, who is survived by his three children Peter, Elizabeth, and Anna, was buried at Morne Fortune, near the Inniskilling Monument, a site vested in the St Lucia National Trust and within close proximity of fellow Nobel Laureate, Sir Arthur Lewis

During the homily, Monsignor Anthony quoted from Walcott’s 2004 work, “Bounty” in which he said “I cannot remember the name of that seacoast city, but it … my own epitaph, “Here lies D W This place is good to die in”.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. He loved every single one of you on that isle. He knew you. He was you. He had each of you in his heart, in his mouth, in his hand that held a pen.

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  2. It wasn't organized and broadcast properly. And the authorities weight when hero died to say how good they were. State funeral invite all uniform groups . Have to citizens to wear their flag colour. And come down and pay there respect. It was the government of the day to plan this not the family . I quest the people that would really understand the value of the man is people he had touch in his life time and people who really appreciate poetry and arts and even history. He is great. He was different cause he never into politics. That makes him even great . He loved his country .

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  3. Dead hero's society...after we dead they honour we...."A GOOD BOY".may this brilliant soul of this soil R.I.P....your works will surely live on...like Bob Marley in di archives...
    Just to emphasize on whether OR NOT someone attended OR NOT doesn't suggest he was honoured OR NOT....and i quote "you don't have to go to church to call out jah name".or to honour the legend!

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  4. Dead hero's society...after we dead they honour we...."A GOOD BOY".may this brilliant soul of this soil R.I.P....your works will surely live on...like Bob Marley in di archives...
    Just to emphasize on whether OR NOT someone attended OR NOT doesn't suggest he was honoured OR NOT....and i quote "you don't have to go to church to call out jah name".or to honour the legend!

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  5. Forgot to mention....Why was the flag so wrinkled?? Shameful I say ...utterly shameful!!

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    • Only a person who is not on a galloping horse will be appalled by such small flaws! Fortunately broad- mindedness forbids a few wrinkles in the drape to obliterate or upstage the true national and international sentiments paid to Sir Derek Walcott. May he rest in eternal peace!

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  6. Well, now you understand the psyche of our people: hypocrisy, double ( and some times triple) standards, kicksoff, mepris, and a very occasional burst of goodwill and niceness. I suppose we have to take the bitter with the sweet.

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  7. Blast some music, sell some rum and you would see how many people would've been there. Those guys didn't organise that properly.

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  8. May this Caribbean's Literay Giant rest in eternal peace. What a great mind he was. We have lost Dwight and Derek, so sad.

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  9. What difference will it make telling someone your from a country with two deceased laurate, it not putting food n my plate.

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  10. How St.Lucians disrespectful, we all have choices, you choose to go, I choose to stay home and watch cartoons, Tom choose to do the same, while Jane decide too cook for her man, he dead already, what difference would it make if I was there. he know where he heading too, I still catching my royal trying to make ends meet. Since it was a state funeral, the SDA, should have been invited, instead of talking about boycotting the track meet. The department of youth and sports ..SMH, the sports could have taken place. I hope it rain on Monday to wash it out. I guess that sound disrespectful.

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  11. I felt disrespect by the turnout I really eh lying for Lucians boy, if it wasn't for seon and his boys and the convent girls and even the little primary school children that came out to support the cathedral would've been empty to say the least. It was like he was a nobody I really believe that the turnout could've been better besides that was our last chance at saying goodbye to a Nobel laureate because we don't have anymore left to say goodbye to. And when they finish everybody want to say they from a country with two Nobel laureates.

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    • Not only in St.Lucia mate, people have lost all their compassion, no one really cares any more. We all know he was one of the greatest St.Lucians who ever lived. It takes our education system to continue to educate our kids in the right way. May he RIP

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    • Were you there yourself? Do you know whether ordinary St. Lucians were being allowed into the cathedral? Did you see the people who were in the square at the time?
      Over the years, ordinary St. Lucians have generally not shown much public admiration for Sir Derek (and there are many reasons for that) - so why would they come out in large numbers for his funeral?
      Answer these questions and then see whether this comment still makes sense.

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    • I absolutely agree. Reminds me of the saying " A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home." This was a man worthy of respect for his contribution to the world and his country. Some have said he spent more time in Trinidad and US and elsewhere, and only his latter years marked his presence on home soil. Truthfully this man could've never been who he was had he remained in St. Lucia where even your peers tear you down and opportunities are limited especially in the field of education. The wider world gave him the recognition and respect and loved him and his work apparently. The handful of persons who showed up came out of genuine love and respect for this man, and therefore better the genuine few than the crowd of gawkers with little respect to the ceremony. May his soul rest in Peace. Farewell Mr. Walcott, been in your presence a couple times and it was an honour. Thank God for the talent he gave you!

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    • Some believe that he should be remembered like everybody else with a street named after him. Like someone said, his life's work was like casting pearls before swine. "A prophet has no honour in his own country".

      Perhaps, when we will have attained that level of maturity as nationalists, because the meaningless so-called "independence" was given, and not earned, we will honour both of these laureates with better appreciation of what they did for Saint Lucia.

      We have more respect for our colonizers' names, keeping those as prominent place names, than we have for Saint Lucians who made breakthroughs on the world scene. They put us on the map. Someone suggested the renaming of Castries, Vieux Fort or Gros Islet after both of them.

      Such action would demonstrate to the whole world our appreciation and our capacity to give recognition for the achievement of nationals on the world stage.

      We are largely small-minded people.

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    • I too felt disappointed by the turnout. This man was recognized as the best in the world for his craft, from a tiny dot on the map, yet a handful of people turn out for his state funeral. Maybe it should have been publicized some more, maybe a weekday would have been more appropriate. It was just disappointing. May his soul rest in peace.

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