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Songs of the sea: Obituary: Derek Walcott died on March 17th

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Derek Walcott, poet of the Caribbean, died on March 17th, aged 87

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Songs of the sea

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Derek Walcott

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Britain’s brutal encounter with reality

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Songs of the sea

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OVER more than five decades of producing some of the 20th century’s best poetry, Derek Walcott found many local metaphors for his trade. He was a bent astronomer, tracing out the circle of time in the singeing stars above the mango trees; the careful stenciller of a flowered window frame, or the planer of a canoe; an egret stalking the reeds, his pen’s beak “plucking up wriggling insects/like nouns and gulping them”.
Above all, though, he was a poet-mariner, a rusty-head sailor with sea-green eyes, “a red nigger who love the sea”, as locals said: red because he …