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Love After Love Derek Walcott
Successes In your drafting books, make notes on the following bullet points: What are your special qualities? What are you good at? What talents do you have? Your talents don’t have to be academic or sporting – there are lots of other things people are good at. Write down some of your own awards. Share your ideas with the rest of the class. Now watch the video.
Derek Walcott Born in 1930 on the West Indian island of St Lucia
He has worked in the United States and Trinidad He is a man who spans several cultures: He had 2 white grandfathers and 2 black grandmothers His first language was a French-English patois (informal dialect)
Derek Walcott Walcott’s mother introduced him to poetry at a very early age and encouraged him to read classic English poems. He was brought up on an island that was a colony. He came from a culture that had slavery in its background. He is an internationally respected writer.
Love After Love Listen to the poem again.
The first two stanzas tell a story about meeting someone. Meeting whom? According to the first two stanzas, when you meet this person, how are you to treat him/her? On line 11 there is a reference to ‘another’ person. Who do you think this other person in ‘your life’ is?
Take down the love-letters from the bookshelf
The photographs, the desperate notes, What kind of experience is described in these lines? Sit. Feast on your life. There are two sentences in this last line of the poem. What is the significance of ‘Sit’? What do you think is meant by ‘Feast on your life’?
The poem is arranged in four stanzas, but only the last one ends with a full stop so that the stanzas flow into each other. What do the four stages of the poem focus on. Copy and complete the chart below, summing up each stanza briefly. Stanza Summary 1 2 3 4
There are nine sentences in the poem
There are nine sentences in the poem. Three are long – 19,26 and 32 words long – and six are short or very short. Which words are used to begin the short sentences? What do you notice about them? Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart To itself, to the stranger who has loved you What is the importance of giving?
Brainstorm all the words in the poem that are about hospitality.
These are all words about how we treat other people. What does the poet’s use of so many of these words tell you about how he feels we should treat ourselves?
The final sentence of the poem begins with ‘Feast’ and earlier in the poem the writer used ‘Give wine. Give bread’ (8). On what occasions do people have feasts? What is the particular significance of wine and bread? What does the poet mean by ‘Feast on your life’?
The writer repeats a particular construction: ‘The time will come’ (1); ‘You will greet’ (3); ‘each will smile’ (5) ‘You will love’ (7). Discuss each of the following ways of responding to this construction. He’s saying there might be a time in the future when this might happen. He’s ordering readers to do these things. He’s suggesting that these are things that will happen to us all.
The poet sometimes uses language in a very sparing way
The poet sometimes uses language in a very sparing way. What do you think is the bigger story behind the words ‘the desperate notes’ (13)? What are the two loves in the title referring to? This is a poem that often appears in collections of people’s favourite poems. Why might this poem be especially important to some people?
The poem is written in the second person – as if the poet addresses the reader directly.
It is full of imperative verbs (commands). Find examples. The poet repeats words or variants of them. Can you find examples? Why does he do this? This is a very happy poem, especially in its view of the later years of life, not as a time of loss but of fulfilment and recovery.
To sum up: This poem is about self-discovery. The poet suggests we spend years assuming an identity, but eventually discover who we really are – and this is like two different people meeting and making friends and sharing a meal together. Walcott presents this in terms of the love feast or Eucharist of the Christian church. It is not clear whether this person is merely human or in some way divine.
The poem begins with the forecast of the time when this recognition will occur.
The second stanza suggests that one has to fit in with others’ ideas or accommodate oneself to the world, and so become a stranger to oneself – but in time one will see who the stranger really is, and welcome him or her home. Our everyday life is seen, therefore as a kind of temporary disloyalty, in which one ignores oneself ‘for another’ – but all along it is the true self, the stranger ‘who has loved you’ and ‘who knows you by heart’. When the time comes, one can recall and review one’s life – look at the love-letters, photographs and notes, and what one sees in the mirror – and sit and feast on one’s life.
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