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In The Virgins Analysis

Author: poem of Derek Walcott Type: poem Views: 16

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You can't put in the ground swell of the organ

from the Christiansted, St.Croix, Anglican Church

behind the paratrooper's voice: "Turned cop

after Vietnam. I made thirty jumps."

Bells punish the dead street and pigeons lurch

from the stone belfry, opening their chutes,

circling until the rings of ringing stop.

"Salud!" The paratrooper's glass is raised.

The congregation rises to its feet

like a patrol, with scuffling shoes and boots,

repeating orders as the organ thumps:

"Praise Ye the Lord. The Lord's name be praised."

You cannot hear, beyond the quiet harbor,

the breakers cannonading on the bruised

horizon, or the charter engines gunning for

Buck Island. The only war here is a war

of silence between blue sky and sea,

and just one voice, the marching choir's, is raised

to draft new conscripts with the ancient cry

of "Onward, Christian Soldiers," into pews

half-empty still, or like a glass, half-full.

Pinning itself to a cornice, a gull

hangs like a medal from the serge-blue sky.

Are these boats all? Is the blue water all?

The rocks surpliced with lace where they are moored,

dinghy, catamaran, and racing yawl,

nodding to the ground swell of "Praise the Lord"?

Wesley and Watts, their evangelical light

lanced down the mine shafts to our chapel pew,

its beam gritted with motes of anthracite

that drifted on us in our chapel benches:

from God's slow-grinding mills in Lancashire,

ash on the dead mired in Flanders' trenches,

as a gray drizzle now defiles the view

of this blue harbor, framed in windows where

two yellow palm fronds, jerked by the wind's rain,

agree like horses' necks, and nodding bear,

slow as a hearse, a haze of tasseled rain,

and, as the weather changes in a child,

the paradisal day outside grows dark,

the yachts flutter like moths in a gray jar,

the martial voices fade in thunder, while

across the harbor, like a timid lure,

a rainbow casts its seven-colored arc.

Tonight, now Sunday has been put to rest.

Altar lights ride the black glass where the yachts

stiffly repeat themselves and phosphoresce

with every ripple - the wide parking-lots

of tidal affluence - and every mast

sways the night's dial as its needle veers

to find the station which is truly peace.

Like neon lasers shot across the bars

discos blast out the music of the spheres,

and, one by one, science infects the stars.

Anonymous submission.


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