A great quote from poet, Donte Collins.
It has been insightful writing about the various shades of Love in February – thank you for sharing the journey with me with your thoughtful comments. I have no doubt that I will continue to talk about Love in the days that lie before me but for now, and to conclude the theme for this month’s blog posts, I have chosen this piece by Derek Walcott, Love after Love.
I’ve chosen it because it speaks to me about self-Love, one of the most important (and difficult) aspects of Love. It is certainly something that’s taking me a while to learn. It’s easy, sometimes, to love another, more than yourself. If you think of the ways you’ve treated yourself over the years, put yourself through, you will see that you’ve been unkind in gestures you would never have dreamt of doing to another. Yet you’ve tolerated this harshness to your Self over the years, over and over again. Beaten yourself up black and blue.
I received Walcott’s poem in the dark, quiet, early morning hours by email. I like that time of the day when things are still and silent around me. At first I thought of that song by Cher but then realised this was quite different. His poem reminded me of all the ways and areas of my life that I am trying to understand. To me, his words are about a deeper sense of meaning; a coming back to yourself, a return to self as such.
Walcott gently reminds me of my slow lessons when it comes to learning about “stillness”; and to just be with what it is. To stop do-ing. To let go. To have faith. To trust. To let life happen to me. As Rilke once said “Believe me: life is in the right in any case”.
But there’s something else.
It also brings up the notion of ‘waiting’.
Carrie Hilgert, http://carriehilgert.com/ as some of you may know, is one of my favourite bloggers. She not only writes, but paints beautifully:
She recently said this about waiting which I feel is so apt, so right, and so true:
“Waiting is the hardest thing for me. Waiting for the sadness to pass, waiting for something exciting to happen, waiting for results of my hard work. I have a friend who says that waiting might be one of the hardest things we face as humans.”
And so in this process of just be-ing, in my waiting, I’m trying to love the not-quite-a-stranger within myself. She has been with me all my life — my 3-year old, my 6, my 10, my 13, my 16, my 18, my 21, my 30, and so on, and I am accepting all of her (even the ones I’ve not met yet, thanks Chris from More than Enough) quietly, lovingly, gently, as if for the first time. She (or he) is after all the stranger who has loved you, all your life. Derek Walcott describes this process of self-recognition and acceptance so well, so powerfully. I hope you feel it too.
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
If you like to know, here’s further research on the man who wrote the poem as mentioned and written in the uncarved blog by Ken Chawkin:
Derek Walcott is an amazing man, an artist, poet, professor and playwright. Acknowledged as the greatest living poet in the English language, he won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1992. He taught at Boston University for 20 years. Turns out he also taught in Canada. In 2009, Walcott began a three-year distinguished scholar-in-residence position at the University of Alberta. In 2010, he became Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex.
Born in Saint Lucia, Derek Walcott was influenced by his mixed racial and cultural heritage. He married a Trinidadian, raised a family there, and built the Trinidad Theatre Workshop. For someone who was in search of his own identity, both as a person and an artist, this poem represents a coming back to one’s essential self. It resonates deeply with the thousands who have read it. It was first published in Sea Grapes, and later in Derek Walcott, Collected Poems, 1948-1984, and The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013.
Listen to this excellent July 13, 2014 BBC Radio 4 interview where Nobel Laureate poet Derek Walcott talks about his life and work at home on St Lucia: Derek Walcott: A Fortunate Traveller (28 mins).
A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue, from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, profoundly complements this theme by Derek Walcott.
Be kind to yourselves and let your weekend be kind to you.